Although I intended this blog for our Beginner’s I think this is relevant for us all. I choose “friend” instead of student or attendee because I really believe I am also the student and you the teacher, the roles are interchangeable, there is no hierarchy in our relationship as we work together. Yes I guided and teach you Yoga, but you are your own teachers, your own seekers of your own truth, your own guides to a deeper connect to yourself and beyond. I also choose friend because I wish to make our groups feel like a community, a warm and welcoming place for us all. Anyway, I digress, the reason I wanted to write today was to demystify a understanding of Yoga I would like to address: The goal of Yoga.
I’m diving straight in, the ultimate purpose, as I believe from my lineage teachings and research is to alleviate and remove all suffering. In Yoga we call generalized suffering “Dukkha”, also known as “bad space”. Whether physical aches, pains or mind stuff (stress, worry, anxiety, trauma, sadness, you name it). We are ALL experiencing some form of suffering on some layer and we crave one way or another to feel better in ourselves….that is why so many of us come to class. Would you agree?
Yoga is not a process of “fixing” ourselves. None of us are broken. It is a process of removing the layers of causation of our suffering. Removing layers that have created a barrier within us from feeling at home in our mind and bodies. The true practice of Yoga can be seen as a remembering of who we are. Dissolving our stressors, dissolving our tension, dissolving our misunderstanding of ourselves, to reclaim the capacity to feel peaceful, calm and spacious. This we call “Sukkha” which can be translated as: good space, ease, happiness.
So the ultimate purpose of Yoga is to reach a state of consciousness the ancient text’s call Samadhi. Samadhi is often translated as Bliss state, it is a form of awareness that is present, peaceful and liberating… this is putting it very simply, Samadhi is a HUGE concept, which is almost impossible to condense into a few words, so take my description loosely! We may experience glimpses of this blissfulness in deep relaxation and meditation. With a regular practice these glimpses of bliss may last longer and we can then hope to take some of the peacefulness off the mat with us and into our day to day life.
The calm we create has a ripple effect on those around us. On a subtle level, your peacefulness and calm you can create can reach out and touch the fear, worry and stress in the hearts of those around you. You become a carrier of ease, love and calm for others to connect to and benefit from.
You can see already from this short blog, how our Yoga practice is far more than: increasing flexibility, improving balance, getting strong, becoming more toned, stretching out tight muscles. Don’t get me wrong, these are wonderful benefits, but they are just desirable side-effects of the practice of Yoga. Maybe, you identify as someone who comes to Yoga for one of these desirable side-effect and that’s perfect, I am glad you are coming to our Yoga classes. But after reading this, maybe you feel that your original purpose for joining a class, be it more strength or flexibility has a deeper longing underneath? And maybe not?!
If there is one thing I want you to take away from this, it is to realise you are doing amazing work every time you step onto your mat. The treasures of Yoga to ease suffering in ourselves, to feel more at home in our mind and bodies, to find peacefulness from within and then to share this with the world- is exactly what this world needs!
I’ll leave you with my favourite mantra to sign off:
Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu
“May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words, and actions of my own life contribute in some way to the happiness and the freedom for all.”