Did you know that Yoga has been documented for over 5000 years? And since it’s introduction to the West over 50 years ago, its popularity has increased every single day.
It is now believed to be one of the most popular spiritual practices for people to take up – yes even though many people believe yoga is a physical practice – this is just a tiny part of the whole of yoga and it is a powerful spiritual practice. While Yoga does have some fantastic health benefits, at the same time Yoga helps individuals who are seeking truth, searching for the real purpose of this earthly existence so as to understand the meaning of life.
What is the most important thing in life? According to Yoga, it is to realise that you are deeply connected to the Whole – to everything.
“You are not a drop in the ocean
You are the ocean in a drop” Rumi
Yoga is all about experience, your life experience, and by looking at how your experience effects and affects any and all parts of your life, focusing on what it is and not what it should be. When you are able to accept what is then resilience, flexibility, enthusiasm, peace and joy are much more easily available to you.
What does the word yoga mean? The root is shared with our English word “yoke”. To yoke means to bind together and then your desired outcome can then be achieved even if it was previously unobtainable.
The ploughing of a field is impossible for one man, difficult for one ox, hard work for two oxen and one man – but when the oxen are yoked together it is possible and easy.
Yoga is all about connection, bringing together and connecting your thoughts, your breath, your words, your actions and how they then connect you to objects, to ideas, to others, to situations, to the world and how all of that then impacts your experience and affects your life.
Your life is comprised of your feelings, your mood and your emotions. When you feel in a good mood, it’s easy to be inspired by everything around you. On the flip side of that, if you find yourself in a bad mood you may end up feeling irritated and frustrated by the things around you, even the things that would usually bring you happiness.
The primary cause of our difficulties is the habit of the mind to disconnect from the present and to wander into worlds of its own (something I call the EastEnders effect – your inner soap opera/drama department!). This disconnection causes so much suffering as we create an imaginary self, an imaginary life and reality is not matching up!
When you find your inner happy the whole world feels like it’s in harmony and everything brings joy! It’s safe to say then that the meaning of life in it’s simplest form is just to be happy. In other words, the meaning of life is to experience the feelings of love, acceptance, compassion, pleasure and joy.
When you live in harmony with the spirit of what is and experience the feeling of joy and life is filled with satisfaction, you can remain content and happy even if some of the external circumstances are not ideal.
So how can Yoga help us to achieve this? Yoga is all about experience. It has hundreds of techniques (maybe thousands) which all help you to obtain knowledge through your perception, your awareness and your own experience.
Hatha yoga deals mainly with the physical body, there are many Yoga styles and schools within Hatha Yoga, you may have heard of Iyengar, Vinyasa, Astanga, Yin, and so many more. All of these styles provide a method of gaining experience of your own body, this is a technique of obtaining knowledge about ourselves through the body. The deeper purpose of these physical practices is to prepare the body for meditation so that you can sit still, being strong, flexible and able to hold your concentration for extended periods of time.
How much of your day do you spend with your awareness up in your head? We are all in real danger of information overload, there has never been so much information whizzing around us before and we have never before been under so much pressure to do so much and so quickly. So learning to get back in touch with your body is desperately needed today.
Yoga does this so very elegantly, you practice taking your awareness into the body and then you are able to notice feelings, sensations and only then can you honour these feelings, honour and respect your body and become attuned to your life, to your spirit and to live in harmony. Yoga can give us the courage to perform actions that strengthen us.
Yoga is here to bring us closer to reality, closer to what is really going on inside and outside of ourselves. Sometimes the practice of yoga can trigger our deep-rooted beliefs and behavioural patterns and bring them to the surface. Yoga aims to bring light to these things – to enlighten you.
If you are holding grief, anger, frustration or if any emotion is ‘stuck’ within you, then by practising yoga you can begin to slowly re-connect, accept and transform whatever you find. It is only possible to heal these emotions after revealing them.
Life is like a hurricane. So where would you prefer to be if life is a hurricane? Would you agree that to be in the eye of the storm, to be in the centre, to be in the car is the safest place to be? If your life is a hurricane and you know that at any moment you can step into the eye, into the car, into the peace and tranquillity at the eye of the storm then how would that make you feel about your life?
Well, this is what yoga can provide you with, you can practice techniques to teach you how to, at any moment, step into the eye of the storm.
Yoga is a core practice during our WHYs Retreats because it is a way of facilitating a deep connection to the body and mind. We particularly love the powerful and very simple practice of Trataka, this is both a type of meditation and a kriya or cleansing process, and it profoundly affects the mind.
Trataka is believed to have therapeutic qualities for all sorts of health challenges such as depression, insomnia, allergies, anxiety, postural problems, poor concentration and memory. Trataka helps unlocks the inherent energy of the mind and channels it to the dormant areas of the unconscious.
If you would like to have a go we have created a little video below for you to try… please let us know what you think!
Yoga has the following benefits:
- Reduced stress levels
- Strengthened immune system leading to less sickness
- Lower mental fatigue and improved decision making
- Increased energy levels and productivity
- Enhanced concentration and performance
- Enhanced communication skills and team building
- Improved morale and work satisfaction
- Increased physical and mental well-being