11/02/2015

My meaning of Yoga

Yoga is a multifaceted word, which translating into Union and stemming from the origin Yuj - meaning to yolk. Deciphering meaning in the practice of yoga however must always be a personal journey. To me yoga is about a slow burning growth into grace, an unveiling of the truth of who I am, and the steps into embodying that truth in a state of union and ultimately enlightenment for myself and others. It is about Self realisation, through a journey of self awareness, meditation and learning - in the yoga tradition Self Study is called Svadhyaya. And ultimately my path is one of Bhakti or devotion. Through yoga I have come to understand that in spite of and in many ways because of my beginnings, I can and do love life.

For me the beginnings of the journey were not illustrious, I didn't have a distinct injury, just a little back pain from growing fast, I didn't have mental destabilisation beyond the normal hazards of being a 19 year old and still smarting from some of the fresh challenges of teenage years. I wanted to lose weight, I had danced ballet throughout school, I enjoyed being in a studio space, I liked moving to music and I had never been particularly self motivated so I joined the classes at the gym where I could be told what to do. I saluted, and warriored and worried about the size of my bum. I was similarly scatty in those years in my work life, my social life, in fact in would be fair to say that while I tried very hard to get everything right, I was very often making a mess. I smoked, I drank, I ate everything I wanted to and then binge dieted. I was inconsistent and emotionally erratic in friendships, relationships and particularly at work where I consistently made decisions based on what I thought it would give me.

In one of my ill fated jobs, I met a yoga teacher, she was perky, bubbly, ate blueberries like sweeties and when I asked her what teaching yoga was like she said go for it, its the best job in the world. I forgot about it, carried on trying to eek out another type of life I thought I should have. Another year later, in one particularly detestable jobs (aka:life learning crash course), I attempted a revival from my increasingly grey and stressed self, by turning up to yoga. MAGIC. All I can remember about the class was the skipping home afterwards thinking 'home I'm home I'm home I'm home'. Something had happened, something had shifted, lying in savasana at the end of the practice, I had come home to mySelf.

Since that day, I recognised how much more yoga was to me. It wasn't the practice that mattered, although it took me years afterwards to stop trying to beat the person next to me. What mattered, and it mattered deeply and intensely to me, was the way that I felt. Both on the mat, and off the mat, in increasingly longer time periods, I felt better and better and better. I was not longer satisfied with how I felt after emotionally lashing out at someone I loved, or after smoking a cigarette, and eventually over time (by which I mean years not months) caffeine, sugar, gluten and alcohol all gave way too as I found that I could feel better and better and better more and more consistently.

I have been deeply lucky to have some extraordinary teachers, and I've changed my life to make yoga my path. Somewhere along the way it became clear to me that I had a choice, and that in fact the choice was this simple. Feel good, or don't. And I discovered along the way that when I feel good, good things happen. The yoga tradition teaches there are three levels of discernment, or decision making. In the first level, we get instant gratification. In the second level, we gratify the needs of our society or tribe. And in the third level, we make a choice that serves our greatest good, our deepest needs, we bypass the desire to quickly fulfil our wants. Wanting more, wanting money, wanting food, wanting cheap instant connection with others, all leads long term to defamation of our characters and the destruction of our sense of self worth. The deeper choices we make, to recognise our deepest needs and fulfil those, even when it means putting our wants at bay. That is the meaning of my yoga journey. Yoga is the support system that makes those choices possible. And truly, from this place, life is an incredibly beautiful and most wondrous thing, in all its forms.

With love Clare