It's been a week since yoga teacher training commenced. I've already been challenged mentally and physically in so many more ways that I thought possible. I've taken ten classes since last week's first session, which is more than I've taken in almost three years. After almost two years in a desk chair and the front seat of a car, it's been really meaningful to feel my body again. But I'm also finding myself exhausted. There are days when I just can't get through a class, but I'm also finding that speaking to myself in a receptive and supportive way helps ease the transition in my body and my mind.
Last night we dove head first into a lecture on yoga philosophy and history. It was my first experience really sitting down to examine why yoga was created, why its practiced, and how it has evolved. I realized that gaining a new understanding of the inner workings of yoga will help expand my practice and my sense of self. It's good to know where we came from and why we are the way we are. In uncovering where yoga has infiltrated my life, I can find ways to integrate expansion and self acceptance in a way I've never been able to before. That is a really powerful tool, just from doing postures on a mat everyday. It truly made me feel like the connection I always knew was secretly taking place off the mat manifests itself for a reason. It makes a difference to know a deeper purpose exists.
I wanted to share a few things about yoga that kind of blew my mind.
So much of yoga begins before we buy a mat, before we spend $100 on yoga pants, before we step into a studio. It begins in the ways in which we interact with the world and the ways we interact with ourselves. These daily micro decisions are highly influenced by yogic principles, even without thinking about them. I never knew that I was practicing yoga before my first class.
Modern yoga took root in United States in the 1930's and 40's but didn't really gain significance growth until the hippie movement in the 1960's and 70's. Yoga was initially viewed as a spiritual path and over the past 50 years has evolved it's accessibility to a mainstream audience. A lot of people walk into a studio for a better butt and come out with a realization that yoga has altered their lives at every level. Yoga literally means "to yoke"; to come together in a union of mind, body, and spirit. Yoga allows us to connect to ourselves and others in a way that offers support and balance in this crazy, hectic and beautiful world.
The most amazing thing we talked about yesterday was breaking down the 8 Limbed Path. This path is a road map for incorporating yoga into our lives in a meaningful and all encompassing way. This may sound super hippy dippy for those of you thinking "this is why yoga is not for me" but thinking about these concepts may help you to create a sense of peace and calm with your interactions with yourself and with other people. So let me break it down for you.
First, we have the Yamas, yep, it sounds like a yawn! The Yamas are broken down into the five moral restraints.
Ahimsa - non-violence, which refers in a broader sense to our interactions with the world and with ourselves. Choosing to communicate in a way that doesn't harm others is an act of Ahimsa.
Satya - truthfulness, which refers to all aspects of truth and may vary from person to person, but mostly Satya is speaking to a place in which we operate from our authentic self; where we seek to be honest and truthful with those who interact with our space.
Asteya - non-stealing, this is obvious and also incorporates metaphorical stealing, such as respecting your neighbors time and your own.
Aparigraha - non-hoarding, non gluttonous behavior; living from a place of moderation in all aspects of your life
The Niyamas are the second branch on the eight limed path. It's also broken down into five categories of observances. The Niyamas deal more with our inner world, the experiences we create within ourselves that inform how we relate and interact with the world around us.
Saucha - purity and cleanliness, this helps to create an environment of peace and neatness that helps you operate more at ease with everything around you.
Santosha - contentment. The most difficult for me. Santosha encourages us to operate at a level within ourselves that allows for balance between the highs and lows. It seeks to create peace in times of joy and chaos. Living from this place allows us to appreciate both the hardships and happiness that are bound to swing like a pendulum for our entire lives.
Tapas - self discipline, in order to help us obtain our healthiest, happiest state of being. This sense of discipline is more about taking the time to acknowledge what we need to be our best selves. Sometimes that means skipping yoga class to take a nap. We should listen to our bodies to nurture and care of our minds.
Svadyaya - self study, this one is beautiful because it means that yoga is a life long path. Svadyaya encourages you to stay inspired, to constantly find new ways to discover new depths and learn new things about that which we love. It encourages our continued education, both on and off the mat.
Isvara-Pranidhana - is the surrender to something greater than self. This can mean something different for everyone, but most importantly Isvara-Pranidhana asks you to seek and try to understand something greater than yourself.
These ten concepts amazingly take place BEFORE the mat and your breath. By acting and incorporating them into your life, even even on the smallest level, you can begin to reap bountiful rewards both ON and OFF the mat.
I hope your week brings you a deep sense of joy. We are all on the same path with such unique and separate journeys. Thank you for being a part of mine.