My awakening to yoga and its principals began in 1985 under the guidance of my grandmother, one of the first teachers of the BKS Iyengar School. I would escape from Nottingham and London to the Cornish coast and become her muse for the weekend.
For my grandmother our bodies would define an individual’s life history, this would be the starting point for mapping out and addressing any process of rebalancing.
A reference for this would be to ‘dowse’ my chakras with a pendulum and examine any level of negativity; Shiatsu, Reflexology and The Five Elements were also components that would funnel into the mainstream of her yoga practice. On the whole I followed her path in the belief that there are many considerations to address in order to truly benefit from the wellspring of yoga. That one needs to be intuitive and honest with oneself to enable the best outcome and that the real work is followed through off the mat.
I will personally always advocate that any form of yoga is better than none at all. That the retuning of the body and mind can still be achieved by performing asanas without careful perception. I have heard several stories of people becoming enchanted by Bikram, better relating to this fast paced intensity discovering that they don’t have to ‘bully’ their body and that this is the very thing they need to get away from. It does however open the door. Boxing yoga though? Really? Poor old Ma, she’d be turning in her grave.
The point is that yoga has become a billion dollar industry and the essence of what truly matters is often lost in something that has become a brand. Rather than forging a way forward from its spiritual origins it is fast becoming a lifestyle that people aspire to seeking some inner solace. What is largely overlooked is the need to look deeper at ourselves and be present in every action in every moment. Through this we break the chain of habit and consider fresher healthier options rather than opting for thoughtless repetition. Groundhog Day gradually becomes a thing of the past. It is by these means that we address a dominant ego, a destructive desire, or downward doubt. When these are stripped away we can rest with the peace that is our true essence and trust ourselves.
From here we are able to really see and perceive ourselves. Yoga and pranayama can constructively enable a healthy attitude towards others (Yama) in relation to ourselves (Niyama). In turn these relate to having a sense of duty or responsibility towards others, to be truthful and not take advantage, lead sexual relationships that are based on purely developing a higher understanding of truths- not taking advantage for self gain; while the Niyama element requires us to be clean, modest in our expectation, to self-reflect and take actions that endeavour to have a greater effect beyond our own immediate benefit. Being really true to ourselves we can actualise our decisions on firm foundations- for those that are true there is no difference between speech & action- what they say is true.
It is all to easy too lose ourselves in triviality that relieves us of the responsibility of life, this is human and understandable. However when we do so we live a life that is devoid of engaging with our true purpose. We negate a path although less travelled and more painful is one that chisels and sculpts a diamond like soul that can be valued, treasured and never stolen. Substance over style is what wins in the end.