Yoga as a method of enquiry
From memory, my first experience on the yoga mat came in early 1997. A time when to practise yoga was less about physical asana (postures) and more about seated meditation in spaces filled with incense and chanting. Since then I have come and gone from the mat over the years but have always returned, and along the way I learned that yoga is a journey of ongoing self-enquiry.
I typically practice six days a week for at least an hour each time, sometimes two. It’s a highly variable practice — often challenging, but always filled with growth potential and interest. Some days I flow with strength and other days I face some physical or mental challenge on the mat. Maybe I have pain, am stiff, tired, it’s an unfamiliar posture, the room is too cold, or I have some other obstacle to overcome. Yoga to me is more than physical asana, extending to my regular meditation practice and pranayama. That said, my physical asana are extremely valuable to me as this commitment to practise helps build my strength and balance, and improves my mobility.
Even a brief practice leaves me with something worthwhile despite not always being easy — in fact, it is rarely, if ever, easy – but that’s the path I take, regardless. Through observing my evolving yoga practice I have learned that even though I have a tendency to push myself too hard (not only on the mat but elsewhere in life) it is possible to focus and work hard, but still be kind to myself, and that to do otherwise is incongruent. This is why my commitment and ongoing persistence, even when it’s difficult, has benefitted many other areas of my life. Being on the mat helps me explore what’s going on in my body each day, and showing up to classes in various parts of the world has led to the additional bonus of connecting me to a global community I wouldn’t have met otherwise…