Most people enter into the world of Yoga through a need for change. Perhaps it is a new year’s resolution that first brought you to your mat. Maybe it was an injury from a marathon or other athletic event. Or perhaps you entered with the thought of finally taking time for yourself and allowing you to relax. It doesn’t matter the way in which you first stepped onto your mat, what matters is what we do while we are there.
With the new “fad” of yoga there is the typical stereotype of the 18-35 year old woman who wears branded yoga pants, walks around in Toms shoes and has a yoga mat slung over her shoulder. She goes to the closest Hot Yoga studio near her house where she can socialize with her friends. She is a fan of the “sweat mentality” and goes to yoga more for the workout then for the relaxation. What drives her to her mat is the ability to push herself further than she did in the class before. Maybe it’s getting deeper into Warrior 1 or finally pushing up into handstand without the use of the wall. Whatever it is, she loves it. She loves the sweat beading down her face, leaving the yoga studio looking like she has just gone for a swim and feeling like she twisted all of the bad karma out of her during her favorite detoxifying class. But the question is that even if she is able to bend deeper in her front knee in warrior 1 and fully extend up into a handstand, if the “yogi” leaves the studio without connecting to her true self, then has she actually practiced yoga?
Yoga was first created as a practice for young males back in 1900 BCE and it wasn’t until the early 1900 that there was the first female yoga practitioner. Yoga was never practiced in a group setting and instead was practiced in pairs, 1 teacher per 1 student. Now a days you are lucky to be in a class of 20 people because more often than not you are in a class that is 1 teacher to 50 students and possibly over 100. The original 1:1 ratio allowed for the student to fully get that hands on yoga practice which assisted the student to connect his/her breath with the movement. Now, people who attend yoga classes as the” modern day yogi” can be seen with little hands on help and instead throwing their bodies left and right as the instructor calls out ques. They are not thinking about the poses they are in because they are too quick to jump into the next pose. Within a 75 minute class they are not able to connect movement to breath because the students can barely catch their breath moving from up dog to down dog back to plank and going into 108 vinyasas before the time is done. Where has the heart of yoga gone?
We as modern day yogis have begun to lose the real meaning of the practice. Yoga should prepare the body for the final stage of savasana where the mind, body and soul can connect. There we should be able to find our true self. This true self is endless… it is ever changing and everlasting. As we continue through our yoga practices working towards this final stage of Samadhi(total consciousness) we usually end of up falling short. Our tendencies are to focus on the calories burned vs the ability to relax. But it is only within Samadhi where you will be able to find your true self. The person you have been longing to meet and perhaps the true reason why you originally made it on your yoga mat.
So next time you enter into your yoga class and set down your mat, take the time to truly dedicate an intention to your class. Truthfully connect the breath to the movements and movements to breath as you go through the poses. And most importantly take the time at the end of class to actually stay in savasana instead of running out to beat the other 49 girls to the shower. Allow yourself this opportunity to completely let go and give in to the yoga practice. And who knows, maybe you will like the true you that you may finally meet on the other side of your practice. Maybe it is the start of a beautiful romance. Maybe one of true love, self-love…acceptance.