YOGA: A PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT

A lot of people stress when you talk about yoga, like its is a thing only for flexible ex-gymnasts and if you can't do a backbend or touch your toes it just ain't the sport for you (I say sport in jest).

I am a long time yoga do-er (my grandmother taught yoga in the 60's and I have been continuously practicing since I was 7 but had some awareness of yoga prior to that). In my practice of yoga, and in my experience, yoga is not meant to be about the end point. It is meant to be a process of development. 

If one is hyper flexible to begin with, then perhaps the individual cannot go through the process of development, expansion and spiritual exploration. Ironically, my flexibility has often hindered me, as I've jumped into poses without bringing my consciousness inwards in to my body, not actually feeling the poses instead just getting the right look and giving myself sore hamstrings. Some days my hips don't want to open up, and there is nothing I can do about it. Being intuitive with your body is soooo important.

Back story - I have danced competitively for years and years, probably for the same length that I began practicing yoga. With this highly competitive, awkward costume wearing world there is a degree of flexibility that is necessary.

For me, yoga has never been about gaining flexibility, often it has been about fear. I have literally fallen flat on my face countless times in the process of crow pose, and have found inversions particularly difficult for me because of fear - this is my development.

The reason why yoga is a spiritual experience is because it is a point of reference and a metaphor for your life. If we have arrived at the point of the posture - ie. headstand, flying pigeon or whatever, rather than the full experience of the challenge we can easily dismiss the challenge as being the insignificant part. Funnily enough, the challenge is crucial part because with out it the yogi doesn't know who they are through the yoga - so its mindless wandering rather than discovering mindfulness.

We as people are drawn to results based living - we want gratification. So we look to the future to become whole (to the end point) and in a split second we forget to live in the now which is what yoga is trying to teach us. The experience of life is in the now.

If you regularly practice yoga in a class, you may notice a part of you which craaaaaves the teacher saying "good job" or "well done". What would happen if the craving was taken away and instead you focused on what your body felt and brought your mind and your experience into the now. Who are you if you have nothing to bounce off of? Who are you if you didn't post your sandy beach yoga shot? If a tree falls in the forest but nobody is around to hear it, does it make a sound? Same deal guys.

Take from that what you will - basically I feel like sometimes our inward thought and the importance of consciousness and development is lost from yoga. This isn't to say you can't truly experience it if you're flexible already or if you find it easy, but I think its worth noting that our challenges can present themselves in different ways, whether that be physical bodily challenges or mental ones. It isn't about the poses you can do, the progression from pose to pose is just a bonus.