Yoga for me has always about more than physical practice. Though I came to yoga for physical healing, the inner journey unfolded quickly and I started to understand that to really achieve greater health and wellbeing I would need to look beyond just my physical body. This is where breathing exercises (pranayama), relaxation (prathyahara) and meditation (dharana) come into their own and allow yoga to be more than a form of exercise. Another key element to the practice is the philosophy of yoga.
Yoga has been around for over 2,000 years, so it's inevitable that the subject has been explored in depth - resulting in immense wisdom and knowledge that has been shared in scriptures such as Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, which I'm yet to study, but hope to one day. I'd also love to study Sanskrit - the ancient language of Hinduism and the predominant language used in texts such as the Sutras and the Bhagavad Gita.
Even without studying these texts, yoga has still organically influenced me. Whether it's from reading books that are associated with the yoga universe, or attending lectures. Also I feel that this knowledge resides within me from childhood, past lives, ancestors and my close emotional connection with yoga. So much so, that there are times when I read something about the philosophy of yoga, and it feels like I've heard it before. It feels like a truth that is inherently in my being.
If like me, you feel a hunger to learn and discover more about this ancient practice, listen to that desire and take any opportunities to broaden your knowledge. It might be attending more yoga classes, reading yoga books, training to become a yoga teacher or simply becoming ever more present to yourself knowing that all the wisdom and knowledge of yoga exists within your own being.
I often get asked when I'll start training people to become yoga teachers. It's definitely something that I'll do in this lifetime, but for now I'm engrossed in the study of Self knowing that in order to become a teacher and train another, I need to know myself first. This process isn’t easy. We're complex beings and self-study is a journey that requires discipline and a level of strength and courage as we delve deep into your souls.
Exploring the Self can come in many different forms and practices. You can attend a variety of yoga classes, you might connect with different yoga teachers, and you may even find a Guru along the way. I refer to a Guru here as a master in yoga, One who knows God and will show you the path to your own enlightenment.
My current practices include yoga as a whole, Ayurveda which covers self-care practices as well as diet and studying the lessons from my Guru, Paramahansa Yogananda. Though I wasn’t seeking a Guru when I was introduced to Paramahansa Yogananda, I felt a very natural and deep connection.
I share this story with you because yoga is an extensive subject and practice. There's so much to explore, study, learn and embrace. The practice of yoga is a journey and yes, there may be times when you take a break. But once you start, it becomes part of your being and will be there for you whenever and however many times you come back to it.
Wherever you are in the journey of yoga - whether you use it as a form of exercise or you practice yoga as a way of life allow yourself to forever be the student. Seeking, discovering and learning. Your path to Enlightenment has started. Enjoy the journey!