Yoga, to do or not to do?


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Yoga in western society has become many things to many people and this has caused concern for skeptics that believe it to be elusive, religious in nature, or simply too difficult to perform. But Yoga simply is just the joining together of the body and mind and can be done in its most simplistic manner by laying down, standing, walking or sitting.

By using your body as a tool through postures (asanas), exercises of breathing (pranayama), meditation or prostrations and prayer (devotional practice) you offer your mind an opportunity to observe and explore the many characteristics within yourself.

When you enter a yoga class do not enter with expectations! And if you do enter with resolutions and expectations embrace and explore the feelings that arise while there. No matter the movements, exercise and challenges that are asked of you try to remind yourself to observe your reactions with a mindful eye. Allow yourself to become immersed in the process of pain, limit, judgement, disappointments, joy, peace, tears, weakness or strength and embrace these feelings with acceptance and understanding.

This exploration, for some, is actually the difficult part of the journey! Not the pose or practice of the exercises (asanas, pranayamas, meditation…etc) but the mindful observation of our character. The awareness and insight we are offered into our true selves. To witness and observe our weakness, critical judgements, limits and to feel deeply the pain maybe farther than some people are willing to go. It is within this space of time that we are introduced to our true limits, our true feelings and what we may find there to be less than impressive and peaceful.

But when you are ready to awaken and know truth, you can be sure that the flowing path of the inhalations and exhalations of your breath will allow you to see the good, bad and the ugly that balance the body and mind. You will experience compassion  that opens your heart, allowing you to feel contentment in both suffering as well as happiness.

When you grasp at life with the expectations of perfection and constant well-being you are setting yourself up for even more suffering and resistance. Life seeks balance, yin and yang, ebb and flow, black and white, darkness and light. It is the space in between these two opposites that support and equalize.

Yoga joins the small self (ego, physical, human doing) to the Universal self (spirit, soul, being). And in the process of this ever-changing  fluctuation that we call life, we can breath softly  and  become cradled with contentment between these two experiences, balancing and harmonizing and all the while connecting the total sum of the organism that is the infinite.

Namaste

The Silent Observer

I have spent a lot of time as of  late, silently observing myself free of judgement or expectations and let me tell you it has been a very interesting and enlightening experience.  I began practicing yoga and meditation over 17 years ago and during that time have spent many hours during the day practicing breathing exercises in order to perfect my body mind connection. I have spent years controlling my breathing so that I could control my mind and nature and achieve ahimsa or Nirvana.  At first it was maybe a few breathing exercises here and there, or I would apply it to my yoga and walking meditations strictly.

With this practice sometimes on and other times off I had found that over the years I was becoming even angrier with each passing moment and that all the pranayama and yoga I did I was coming no closer to nirvana or ahimsa and I certainly was not perfecting anything except more anger!

It was upon the soft non judgemental focus of my breathing that I become the silent observer, able to experience the process of my life unconditionally and mindfully. As I let go of expectations and just observed my nature and behavior,  lo and behold I discovered a place where I could sit and not be affected by my emotional mind/body. I soon discovered that if I connected to my breathing without changing or controlling it, but instead just following it as it was: (Shallow, short, irregular, etc…) and simply recognizing it: (“Breathing in, Breathing out”…or…”Breathing in I am breathing rapidly, Breathing out I am breathing shallow”….or…”Breathing in  I count 1, Breathing out…Breathing in I count 2, breathing out”…and so on through a 5 count) I was fully present without prejudice or judgement and  I felt a warm sense of happiness over take me even when things were indifferent.

Instead of expecting that I will or will not I just sit silently observing the experience, the emotion and the action with no holding myself to an outcome, because honestly  human nature has a very awkward sinister side which we must recognize and accept before we are able to release it fully and move on. What I find the most freeing as a silent observer is I that I am not JUST that emotional mind/body  experience, but this wonderful balance of yin and yang. The “I” which I beleived before to be me is only human nature which has no permanence and so I can hold onto nothing, not good or bad!

I guess what I wish to say to those who are looking for the answers to divine perfection is, Stop trying to change yourself, stop trying to create a static being based on a fictional character that can not humanly exist until you have first accepted your impermanent nature and your faults. Start by acknowledging your true self with all its weakness and just name it with a mindful awareness that is in sync with your breathing. “Breathing in I am speaking too much, Breathing out I am aware that I am talking too much” So what if you are! Just bringing your awareness to the fact will create room in your heart and mind for loving kindness to grow, not only for yourself, but all sentient beings as they too are just being human!

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