Moving in the Right Direction  
The mystery of yoga is not yoga itself, but the journey of self-realization.  (Photo: Flickr user, shunpikie)
The mystery of yoga is not yoga itself, but the journey of self-realization. (Photo: Flickr user, shunpikie)

Demystifying yoga

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A common question I hear from people when they come in to inquire about my studio is, “so what is the whole yoga thing about?” This is a great question. There are many styles of yoga so one really needs to choose the yoga style that works best for your body and personality.

Therefore, I think that the answer to that question is very individual. The answer can only be experienced because understanding yoga requires not just the mind but the body, not separately, but working together. The word yoga means union. Yoga is the union of breath, postures and meditation. We understand the importance of breathing and we’ve kind of got an idea of the need to be able to discipline the mind for meditation. I think a large part of understanding yoga is understanding what separates the yoga postures, the exercises, from any other body exercises, what makes yoga exercises so special or unique?

Mr. B.K.S. Iyengar, founder of Iyengar yoga and Yogic Science, says “the postures position the body with a physical, mental and spiritual attitude. Yoga postures have two aspects, posing and reposing. Posing means action by assuming a fixed position of limbs and body. Reposing means reflection on the pose while you are holding the pose. The pose is rethought and readjusted so that the various limbs and parts of the body are positioned in their places in a proper order and feel at rest so that the mind can experience the calmness that comes when the bones, joints, muscles, fibres and cells are in proper alignment.”

Developing proper alignment when the body and its limbs are in various angles and orientations is very challenging. The challenge can be from a lack of strength, lack of awareness, day to day distractions, attitude at that moment, personal belief system, lack of experience, physical illness, etc. That is why yoga is an exercise that we are always learning and progressing with. The yoga practitioner enters the laboratory of the mind/body complex where the tools become repetition, patience and observation. The act of repeating a pose proves that an experience is often influenced by tiredness, interest, moods and thoughts, which mold our perceptions of the world. Patience and observation allows us to be honest with the truth of our perceptions. Once we are honest with our perceptions, we are able to develop objective rather than subjective analysis of our actions.

Mr. Iyengar continues his above thought saying, “By reflecting on which part of the body is working, which part of the mind is working and which part of the body has not been penetrated by the mind, brings the mind and body together. As the body is contracted and extended, so the intelligence is contracted or extended to reach every part of the body. This is what is known as reposing this is sensitivity. When this sensitivity is equally in touch with the body, the mind, and the soul (will and emotions), we are in a state of contemplation or meditation which is the pose. The wrestling between the body and mind, and the mind and soul, are vanquished."

Each time we stretch (or act) there is a response - the breath tightens or attention strays or the mind reacts and judges. Yogis have noticed this and respond not by trying to stop this interaction but to observe it. It’s making the disciplined choice to study one's consciousness rather than to simply control it. The more conscious one is to an act the less one will over-react to that action or stimulus. Acts done consciously are uncontaminated because they are less clouded or confused. This is the same for all of our activities in life. The busier we become within our lives, the more we loose sight of ourselves. We end up being pulled around by our tainted perspectives which can lead us towards confusion and a loss of centre and identity.

The mystery of yoga is not yoga itself, but the journey of self-realization. Self-realization requires a state of readiness for the individual because yoga needs to be experienced. Its benefits are many and prioritized differently within everyone. It cannot be understood by reading a book, it needs to be practiced. It is not specific to culture, race, gender, or age. It is personal and it’s for those of you who are ready to experience a fresh new approach to who you are, or who you think you are.

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About the Author

Lori Rockl graduated from UBC with a Bachelor of Political Science. After working with the Federal Government through two elections, she escaped back into her gifted life of fitness training and now owns a successful Pilates & Yoga studio. Although her clientel tell her often how much they learn from her, Lori would tell you that she is the one that learns the most from her clients. For Lori, the study of the mind-body connection is an infinitely fascinating study. She has found that Pilates and yoga are excellent tools for healthy living and incorporate those tools into her marathon and triathalon training. Please contact lori at [email protected]

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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