What is yoga?
What is yoga all about? It is not a religion. Not a way of life that lectures you to live your life a certain way. Yoga is about life. About me, you, all of us trying to find a way. You do not have to be happy, or stand out, there are no competitions, no medals to be achieved and there is no goal either? So why would you start, you might wonder?
The contemporary Western assumption is that yoga, like all else, is a skill. Looking from the outside, it seems nothing more than a series of funny postures More than postures that help to solve flexibility and stress. I also thought yoga was so black and white. But from the moment of my first training, I realized that there is so much more. Yoga is about diving deep into yourself, knowing who you thought you were, the layers of which you think you should peel off and settle in who you really are. Yoga is about feeling all things and making those feelings happen. Yoga is about discovering the beautiful person you already are, and not hiding it for someone. Yoga is about having good days, having bad days and having days that are a bit of both. Yoga is about seeing yourself in others, even if they make you angry. Yoga is about trying new things – things that make you scared – not getting attached to those things. Yoga is about being honest.
What is true?
So let’s be honest. Yoga is not as beautiful as it looks like on Instagram. In fact, it is exactly the opposite. I have never sweat or cried as much as I have done on my yoga mat except maybe during the birth of my children. These were tears of deep happiness, fatigue and pain. If I say it’s about diving deep into yourself, I mean deeply Sadness is your Joy . I encountered things that I thought I had processed a long time ago. Either way, tucked away deeply. My thoughts, feelings, relationships, conversations, memories, they all come along in the flow of a yoga practice. And the strange thing is, that it’s all amazing! I feel like I’m making progress; I’m getting this new person, this better person. The crazy thing is that I cannot really explain. For family and friends, I am that person talking yoga-talk, trying to get it across. They are politely nodding their head. Clearly don’t have a clue what it is I am talking about. And that is absolutely fine. It is my (yoga) story, my path. And not theirs.
Yoga for YOU
Indeed, yoga can be lonesome. It is an individual exercise, and what you experience on your mat will be very different from what I experience on mine. I always tell my students that there is no wrong or right in yoga – that’s just it. Existence knows no right and wrong There are days I am on my mat and I’m completely distracted by what is going on in my head. And other days I’m on my mat and I can’t get enough of it. In my own practice, I discovered that this loneliness is actually the key to ‘my true self’. What is underneath all those layers. Discovering (time after time) who I really am. And that changes continuously. It’s a process. What am I afraid of? The answer is often: fear. When I have recognized my fear, I can see this fear in others too. And I no longer feel alone. Yoga is about unity. We all have the same emotions that come by day-in-day-out. We all know how it feels to be very sad or to be filled with joy. We do not have the same experiences, backgrounds, but we all feel the same things. And those things I had tucked away very deeply? Well, other people have them too. Yoga helps to bring those things to the surface. Yes, we all have the need to get attached to pain and addicted to putting stuff away. When I realized that it was strange to hold on to “fear” and “sadness” I could let go. Yoga is about purifying emotional luggage to make way for more emotional luggage.
Yoga, a problem solver?
Yoga is certainly not a quick solution. My problems are not resolved when I step off my mat. That is the reason why they call it ‘practice’. Yoga takes time. And in a fast moving world it is hard to say we have the time. But if I do not have time for myself, what sense does it make? Yoga is difficult. Life is hard. Yoga trains for life. I would not do it if I did not believe in it. Making people more conscious of life, seeing each other and showing understanding towards one another. With teaching yoga and passing it on, I certainly do not have the wisdom in mind. My life is definitely not perfect. And no, I am not always happy. Bringing yoga to the people means giving the things I have learned from it (Svadhayaya). And the bad days are there too, and the moments of doubt and insecurity. Yoga is not about being perfect. Yoga is about balance. Yoga is about drinking healthy green smoothies and eating pizza. Yoga is about finding acceptance in the world, in others, and especially in yourself.