I have talked about it before, a little bit, but let me remind you that Yoga is not a mere physical activity. It is not a workout, it is not a weight loss fad, it is not a hippie only activity and it is definitely not a gymnastic warm up. Yoga is a practice aiming to unify the body, mind, and soul. The physical portion of Yoga that is most commonly taught in the West is meant to create a deeper connection between our brains and the rest of our bodies, so we can calm our monkey minds and sit still for meditation.
I have now been an enthusiastic and dedicated (and a bit addicted, I must confess…) Yoga practitioner for almost four years now, and here are some of the most important things I learned so far.
1. Being mindful is actually truly living
It is not breaking news that Yoga is all about mindfulness and being in the present moment. It was so hard for me at first because I didn’t understand the purpose of that “ being in the present moment ” stuff. In fact, every time I was in Savasana (you know that yummy nap time at the end of a Yoga class) or every time the teacher would leave us in a seated meditation, I would get so frustrated. Dude (that’s the Yoga teacher…), I have better things to do than DOING NOTHING! Dude, I would rather have my quads burn in chair pose and my core strengthened in plank than DOING NOTHING! Yeah, I was feeding my anger with these delightful and totally “ un-yogic ” thoughts, or used these quiet times to decide what I was going to eat for lunch or making to-do lists.
But then, I don’t exactly know when, perhaps while reading The power of now by Eckhart Tolle, a light bulb turned on and illuminated my closed mind. Meditation and mindfulness is not just about doing nothing, it is about being present in doing nothing (or in doing whatever, actually). By being present, I mean feeling, experiencing, sensing, the exact present moment. It is getting out of our heads, away from the past, out of the future and be here now. It is to stop making up our lives in our brain, but actually living our lives for real. It’s smelling a flower, feeling the earth under our feet, tasting a delicious meal, hugging a loved one, writing heartfelt words or doing whatever that makes you forget to watch your phone. I think that being mindful is the only way to actually live. Otherwise, it’s just thinking about living...
2. Everything is a teacher
Through the practice of Yoga, I heightened my sense of curiosity and I think it was triggered by one of my teachers, during a Yoga teacher training. Before a meditation exercise that would take place outside in nature, he told us something like : “ Ask nature what it can teach you ”. At first I thought it was a bit (a lot) weird. But then, I did it anyway, and it was incredible. The mountains taught me to enjoy stillness and cultivate patience, the seashells taught me to embrace my uniqueness, the waves reminded me that nothing is permanent, the whales taught me to stay graceful and cherish community, and so on. I know it sounds super weird but, guys, Yoga is weird, in all the best ways!
And then, I realized that everything is a teacher. There is always something to learn from every creature, every person, every experience, everything! The key is to stay open minded and to try to find out what can be extracted and what lesson can be learned. Even from the most horrible experiences, there is wisdom to be found. Realizing that made the world even more fascinating to me and humbled the shit out of me, knowing that, actually, I know nothing!
3. We are all in this together
One of the most important teachings Yoga propelled and radiated on me is the concept of oneness. Through meditation and movements, Yoga taught me to merge my mind, body and soul into one big mindful blob of myself, by cultivating the mindfulness I was talking about earlier. Most of all, It taught me that, actually, everything is only one. We are all part of the same giant vibration web. We are all made from the same matter. We are all stardust, if you really think about it!
It means that every thing mama earth has created is linked, connected, dependent, from the tiniest unicellular organism to the massive elephants, from the hardworking bees to the lazy entitled humans. Everything is just uniquely one. I know it’s deep and a little hard to grasp. Once I grasped this vast and beautiful concept, which I physically experienced during, of course, meditations, a beautiful, sparkly tsunami of empathy and compassion washed over me. Frankly, I am still kind of bathing in that crystal clear pool of consciousness, like, forever. Understanding that we all are one puts a lot of things into perspective and makes us even more aware and mindful of the words we say, the thoughts we have and the actions we take.
What are your thoughts on these concepts?
What has Yoga taught you that you didn’t know before?