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Rediscovering Yoga

Written by Tanya Lee

Man practicing mindfulness

Yoga, I have learnt, can mean so many different things to every individual. It is a practice that has evolved over the existence of humans and has been alive in the South of Asia since the beginning of its practice several thousand years ago. Today, many of us are familiar with Hatha Yoga, which has branched off and been modified into several other types of Yoga such as Vinyasa, Bikram, Ashtanga and Kundalini. Through Instagram and other forms of social media, the popularity of Yoga in Western cultures has boomed over the past ten years and people are starting to see the abundant benefits that comes with doing the Yoga asanas (postures).

I’m not a Yoga Guru or Yogi who has been in practice for 20 years, but after doing my Yoga teacher training in Nepal, it’s safe to say that my views on Yoga have changed drastically. I’ve ultimately come to realise that the western modifications of Yoga have caused some of its true meaning to fade, and we have lost integral sight of what Yoga truly stands for and how it should really be practiced.

Don’t get me wrong, Traditional yoga is very slow and I do enjoy the modifications that enhance the pace and transformation of flows. However, Yoga is more just that hour a day on your mat and is more than the five-minute session of meditation. It is an actual lifestyle that you perform from the moment you open your eyes in the morning until you tuck yourselves in at night.

For example, Ashtanga yoga translates into the 8 limbs of life. Yoga postures only come under one limb, and every other limb is a principle and stage of being that cannot be achieved just by an hour yoga class. Yoga postures are amazing and yoga flows provide immense physical benefits, but the true meaning of the yogi lifestyle that promotes honesty, non-greed, contentment, discipline, surrender and much more, has been lost in the midst of modifying yoga.

The ultimate goal of yoga and meditation, according to my Guru in Nepal, is to reach the state of bliss where being purely present is enough for the purpose of our existence. Too deep? Yeah, same. So, I broke this down to something more achievable on my level, and just thought; I’ll apply the yoga philosophy of awareness and acceptance in order to enhance and deepen the meaning of my own life, and find peace within every moment I experience using observation rather than irrational emotion.

If you’re not too sure where to start, begin with your daily yoga practice! Make it your daily ritual where you reward your body and mind with time to flow, stretch and just enjoy the feeling of being in your own skin. Mastered this already? Great! Now you can start extending the practice off your mat with some of these tips.

Mindfully Eat

Food and eating is an essential to our survival and we do it every day. Yogic eating is said to improve digestion, increase satiety after meals, and enhance our taste buds. Eating like a yogi is fairly simple, and it’s basically just chewing your food thoroughly, slowly and taking into account all your senses about the food you are eating. Take notice of the smell, the sound, the feel and the sight of your food. This is also a reason why cutlery isn’t used in India and Nepal; because the practice of yogic eating encourages the touch and connection with food when it is being consumed.

Spend time with yourself

It’s easy to get caught up in our social lives and overwork our minds and hearts for others. Of course, socialising and spending time with friends and family is so important for connection, but we often undermine the importance of the silence around us. A good practice to maintain is one of self-maintenance, where you dedicate time purely to yourself, to speak kind words and to listen to the chatter going on in your head. No, don’t join the chatter, just observe it and try to calm it down instead. The more you do this, the more guaranteed you are to make good and insightful decisions in your life because you are more in tune with the way that you feel about everything around you. Just subtle things that you notice about yourself is a hint of the direction you want to be heading in and respond rather than react.

Declutter

No, I don’t mean rearrange your things to be tidier. I mean GET RID OF IT. We all have things that we convince ourselves we need but we really don’t. It may have been sitting in the cupboard for three years but somehow, we are scared of letting it go because we might someday need it! You’re not wrong, because maybe one day you will. Contrastingly however, being present tells us that in this moment, you don’t need it, and the more objects that you entitle yourself to, the more weighed down you are by objects you own. We are all more inclined to take risks in our lives and live in the moment if we have nothing to lose. If we free ourselves of unnecessary materials, we liberate our minds and souls to connect with more important means in life. It’s hard to even explain the feeling when you decide to let go of excessive belongings. You’ll have to try it for yourselves and then thank me later!

These are just small and simple ideas you can implement into your lives to start embracing the true meaning of Yoga again. Make the time for your mats, make time for your food and make time and room for your own mind! It seems a little selfish to be doing all these things for yourself especially if you’re not used to it, but if anything, coming out a better, healthier and more productive will ultimately make you a greater asset and give you more of yourself to dedicate to others around you! Yoga is a way of life and the power is in your hands to discover its potential in enhancing your life.

Sources:

http://www.fitbodyhq.com/yoga/7-true-traditional-types-yoga/
http://www.mea.gov.in/in-focus-article.htm?25096/Yoga+Its+Origin+History+and+Development

Mastered this already? Great! Now you can start extending the practice off your mat with some of these tips.
  1. Mindfully eat

Food and eating is an essential to our survival and we do it every day. Yogic eating is said to improve digestion, increase satiety after meals, and enhance our taste buds. Eating like a yogi is fairly simple, and it’s basically just chewing your food thoroughly, slowly and taking into account all your senses about the food you are eating. Take notice of the smell, the sound, the feel and the sight of your food. This is also a reason why cutlery isn’t used in India and Nepal; because the practice of yogic eating encourages the touch and connection with food when it is being consumed.

  1. Spend time with yourself

It’s easy to get caught up in our social lives and overwork our minds and hearts for others. Of course, socialising and spending time with friends and family is so important for connection, but we often undermine the importance of the silence around us. A good practice to maintain is one of self-maintenance, where you dedicate time purely to yourself, to speak kind words and to listen to the chatter going on in your head. No, don’t join the chatter, just observe it and try to calm it down instead. The more you do this, the more guaranteed you are to make good and insightful decisions in your life because you are more in tune with the way that you feel about everything around you. Just subtle things that you notice about yourself is a hint of the direction you want to be heading in and respond rather than react.

  1. Declutter

No, I don’t mean rearrange your things to be tidier. I mean GET RID OF IT. We all have things that we convince ourselves we need but we really don’t. It may have been sitting in the cupboard for three years but somehow, we are scared of letting it go because we might someday need it! You’re not wrong, because maybe one day you will. Contrastingly however, being present tells us that in this moment, you don’t need it, and the more objects that you entitle yourself to, the more weighed down you are by objects you own. We are all more inclined to take risks in our lives and live in the moment if we have nothing to lose. If we free ourselves of unnecessary materials, we liberate our minds and souls to connect with more important means in life. It’s hard to even explain the feeling when you decide to let go of excessive belongings. You’ll have to try it for yourselves and then thank me later!

These are just small and simple ideas you can implement into your lives to start embracing the true meaning of Yoga again. Make the time for your mats, make time for your food and make time and room for your own mind! It seems a little selfish to be doing all these things for yourself especially if you’re not used to it, but if anything, coming out a better, healthier and more productive will ultimately make you a greater asset and give you more of yourself to dedicate to others around you! Yoga is a way of life and the power is in your hands to discover its potential in enhancing your life.

In our world today where many people can lose sight of reality and lose themselves within the realms of technology, money and the materialistic life, Yoga in its traditional nature is needed more than ever.

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