Why Yoga?

Yoga to me, is akin to cleaning the house. It ploughs through the clutter, getting to the core. The house itself is the physical body. What is inside the house is what makes it home.

The process is long and arduous (initially). But if you yield, it will give.

Like an onion, you peel off one layer and get to the next. Then another, and another. You are confronted with yourself all the time in this journey, and that is not the easiest. Sometimes the layers grow back. But as the journey continues, you yield and say, “I know what this is about”. You learn to manage it. You understand what you feel and why. This sounds like agiven, but I am personally not always connected in mind and body. I don’t always know why I am feeling a certain way. Attaining clarity of mind and thought, and knowing what to do with these, is empowering. It has happened sometimes, but not always.

One day I hope, the starting layer of this onion will be what’s left. Who I really am will meet with me.

I have done yoga for over a year. But I now know better, and would not call that Yoga, per se. I will call that Asana practice. No one explained the philosophy to me. All I heard were a few Sanskrit terms here and there. I left the class feeling like I had a good workout. I never knew that there was so much going on in a simple pose, and in the series of poses. How simply meditating on your breath could be so grounding. The simplest things are the hardest to do, by the way. But focusing on the simple things makes way for everything else to fall into place.

With the understanding of these newly-learnt philosophies comes a new problem – yielding. Morning priyas, for example. The mind says I need sleep, yet understands that the soul needs awakening. The physical body goes for the easier option. Yet when priyas are done, the body and soul feels light and easy. Creating a new habit takes effort!

Another struggle is, being in a society of instant gratification, I sometimes cannot help but look at things from outside in. I have never done fancy-schmancy poses such as headstands and handstands, grasshoppers and the like. So it takes a lot of courage to get there. When I am not, (or when I don’t try hard enough), my eyes stray to people who can and do, and the vicious cycle begins. What has helped me though, is coming back to Yama and Niyama – these remind me that  Asanas are not grounded without the first and second limbs of Ashtanga Yoga. These limbs draw me back to the core. Without which, what follows will not be sustainable: this body will grow old and disabled. Conversely, getting my roots right will see me through life: the soul will live long even though the body is old. Getting my roots deep does not happen instantly.

On one of my bad days, the word “gratitude” rang in my head. “Start and end each day with gratitude” – the words I heard in training. The vicious cycle broke when I yielded to those words. I now also understand that I need to guard my heart by shifting that Rajasic energy away – I recognise that comparing myself to others is Himsa. Recognising this reminds me to get back to the basics on my inside, apart from the other Asanas that I can do to shift that energy.

Yoga, I believe, brings people back to the core. With just a mat and a body, there is nowhere else to go but inside you. Coming home to this body is the start of a journey to peeling those layers off.

And I am on my journey.

Glee (200-hour Yoga Teacher’s Training, weekday group)