I don’t always use themes or talk about things like chakras in my yoga classes. The truth is, I personally believe that yoga works its magic simply by synchronising breath and movement and by being very aware of your body. I think that when you engage and extend all of the muscles and internal systems in the body in a productive, conscious way, it gets the whole body working to its best ability. I believe that when you do that and you feel that, it not only makes the body feel good physically, but that it helps you to feel intuitive and aware in your mind too. When you do that, I believe that you make better decisions about how to look after your physical body and your mental wellbeing.
I guess I have always seen my physical practice and my “don’t be a jerk” or spiritual practice as kind of separate. In the sense that I talk about and read about yoga and Buddhist philosophy all the time with like-minded people, and I try and follow those philosophies in my daily life, but I find a yoga class such a short space of time and I have always felt it is important to spend the time in a concentrated and meditative state.
It’s funny how often us yoga teachers end up doing similar styles of sequences and postures at certain times. In Seasonal Yoga and Qi Gong, this is intentional. In most other styles, it’s not done on purpose, but we tend to synchronise with each other a fair bit locally. Just a coincidence or are we more in touch with nature than we know????
In my own practice, it is has never been necessary for me to think about or hear about what is happening on the energetic level. I understand that for some people it is. You see, I am very open and perhaps in some ways, that makes things more challenging. I think that a lot of the yoga philosophy about kundalini, prana and the energetic body could be true. It certainly feels like your mind awakens as you practice physical yoga asana and meditation. it will probably surprise some yoga teachers to know that some others don't think about chakras at all and don't believe that's what you are doing when you practice yoga. But there is no way, other than how you feel, of proving that is true. I could go for the belief that by stimulating energy flow along meridians, blocked spiritual energy is awakened as well as physical energy – but again, we cannot ever prove that is what is happening. It could be that by positioning my body in a certain way and meditating on mantras and colours, I awaken energy at certain chakras in my body – but we will never be able to prove that.
I like to think that anything is possible, so I just don’t think about the why or how, I just know that physical yoga asana practice with breath and body awareness somehow makes it easier for me to be a conscientious human being and to make better decisions about how to treat myself and other people. I believe that that helps me to live a more authentic, full life and to encourage other people to do the same. I don’t feel it is necessary to explain to you how that is happening, because the truth is, I am not convinced one way or the other. My yoga practice is a bit like my meditation practice - I just show up and move or show up and sit. I try not to think too much about it – because I think enough.
I do, however, think that the practice helps to awaken certain aspects of my personality that I would like to encourage in myself and therefore sometimes I find it fun to follow a theme. For instance, power posturing and strong exercises make me feel more powerful and more confident. Being more open in my heart and chest makes me think about how I would like to be more open and more compassionate. Thinking about non-harming helps me to be kinder to myself and to know when to be gentle.
So, when you come to my classes, sometimes we will simply do the physical practice – but with constant reminders to be present, to breathe, to feel what is happening in your body. I believe that after that, once your intuition is awakened, once you begin to feel more at home in your mind and your body, you will figure out your own path in life – your own idea of spirituality and faith yourself. I simply want to encourage you to awaken your own sense of self, your own self-acceptance and confidence so that you can heal yourself with yoga, so that you can live your own authentic life.
It also gives me something different to write to you about.
How do you like to practice? Do you like to picture and hear about chakras? Do you like a bit of yoga philosophy in the classes you attend? Have you felt that yoga has changed how you behave as a human being?
For yoga classes in Ayrshire and online - go to www.vhairislavenyoga.com/book.