Living Yoga Life as a Philosophy
What is Yoga to you?
Yoga life is different things to different people, so what it means to you will depend greatly on how you were introduced to it and how you enjoyed your initial experiences with it. For some people Yoga is simply a method of exercising that ensures they have a healthy supple body. For other people Yoga transcends a method of exercise and is a spiritual experience that allows them to find the balance and centring their lives need. This type of Yoga comes closer to a life philosophy than any other.
It all Starts with Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga
Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga descends from a document known as Korunta Yoga which deals with the 8 spiritual movements. These movements are described by Patanjali in Sutra Yoga. Today most Yoga disciplines are directly descended from the descriptions of Yoga exercises in these documents. So are most forms of variations of Ashtanga Vinyasi.
Getting a complete understanding of Ashtanga Yoga is important as it’s proponents treat it as more that a form of exercise. While it’s base is in physical movement it is suggested that it’s power in fact comes from the strength of spirit that is developed from regular and disciplined practice of the 8 stages of Yoga. Through the eight stages of Yoga the body and mind become pure, and so they are seen as a purifying discipline.
Balance and Harmony
Furthermore the discipline of Ashtanga Vinyasa deals with a profound and deep way of relating to others. The closest word to describe this aspect of the Yoga discipline is manners, but it really does go beyond that. Firstly they lack the discipline to sit calmly through the exercises, but they also lack the mental calm to focus wholly and completely on a single task. Yoga requires deep concentrating on the simple act of breathing and feeling the breath bring life to different areas of your body.
Yoga as a form of Meditation
The power of Yoga is found in it’s combination of the physical strength and flexibility. These are needed to complete movements and the mental discipline that is required to maintain them. Yoga is not just a form of exercise. Yoga is also a form of meditation. Yoga is different because it requires a pureness of thought and singularity of focus that is not found in most modern exercise programs. It seeks to bring the body back into balance and focus on maintaining that balance.
Acceping yourself with Yoga
Balance plays a huge role in Eastern Medicine and the purpose of Yoga and similar meditative techniques is often no more than to achieve and maintain the level of balance that keeps our bodies healthy. Yoga teachers will often talk about one-ness and inner harmony. Start accepting yourself! This shows that the first step to becoming completely happy and healthy is to be content with yourself and your life.
Yoga for the Non-Spiritual
For a lot of people the first image that will pop into their head when they think of Yoga is a little old man in a loincloth sitting on top of a stone pillar with his legs crossed and his arms on his knees. He’s probably chanting, humming or got a look of relaxation and serenity on his face. I’m not a person who likes to sit still. I’ve changed that initial perception quite a lot and in this article I want to tell you about the personal journey that taught me about the benefits of yoga for a very non-spiritual person.
My Own Yoga Experience
The first yoga class I ever went to I spend a lot of time sitting in silence with a bored expression on my face and thinking, “This is so dumb”. I listened to the instructor drone on about inner peace and harmony and balance and energy flowing through my body and I was pretty close to never going back again. Then I got lucky.
One of the guys in the class was a professor at the local university. It struck me as a little strange that a professor of biology would be doing this spiritual Yoga life thing. I got an opportunity and speak to him briefly. Actually he singled me out and observed I looked bored. He explained he had felt the same way when he began. Then, he translated the instructors talk into biology terms and it was all very sound.
Energy Flow of Yoga Life
That hit me like a ton of bricks. As I thought on it more and more I could see this from a purely scientific point of view. For instance take the ‘energy’ that flows through our body. However, it’s a very core component of Yoga. I substituted ‘blood’ for energy and looked at this thought process again.
I know that blood carries nutrients and oxygen around our body. If our cells don’t receive these nutrients and supplements they become weak and we can become ill. I know that people can become sick if they have high or low blood pressure. The regular healthy flow of blood is clearly a very important factor in us staying healthy. “Energy” is just a nice word that anyone can understand for blood flow.
Yoga and Blood Flow
Yoga stretches out certain muscle areas. It allows our blood to flow more freely. It bring the nutrients to all parts of the body which need them. That is a nice scientific explanation I am quite happy to accept. You can do the same with the other ‘alternative’ terminology. You don’t relate to when you hear the instructor talking about it. Inner peace, oneness, emotional calm. Your blood flow and the health it is bringing you. Your breathing and the supply of life giving oxygen it brings you.
Concentrate on that just for this one small part of the day. Meanwhile, focus on being alive and healthy your only goal. Forget about what’s happening at the office because you cannot do it from here. Just concentrate on being you, being alive and being healthy.
Stress is the Devil
Stress is a major factor of illnesses in over 40% of all medical issues. Stop thinking too much! This practice shows us how to let all those worries be something we can think about later. It leaves the brain free to concentrate on doing all it’s vital health giving functions.
It’s strange that as I’ve done more and more Yoga I have developed a spiritual side. It’s not a religious thing. Rather, more a case of recognizing that my own health and wellbeing are important and worthy. But if you’ve been putting off learning Yoga, I can assure you there are scientific reasons behind it.