Spirituality

Yoga Pants: A Day of Yoga (and swearing!)

I dream of being a flexible yogini. To balance with poise and grace, and wrap my feet around my neck. Such strength, such self-mastery. I can’t even touch my toes! There are many kinds of yoga, but my kind involves a lot of swearing – not exactly the spirit of the thing.

Years of bad habits and bad thinking have given me sore knees and tight hamstrings. I spend too long sitting at a desk, and not in a Zen way. I want to be at peace with myself and not lose my cool. Yoga would help – if I did it more often.

Thankfully, help is at hand in the form of the International Day of Yoga. Around the world on 21st June, yogis and yoginis (and wannabes) will be settling into downward dog and smiling through the pain. But there’s more to yoga than swearing in a variety of awkward positions.

Yoga Wallpaper

What is Yoga?

Yoga is an ancient spiritual discipline from India which aims to transform the body and mind. Many think yoga is just another form of exercise, but the word comes from the Sanskrit yuj which means to join or unite. As Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi explains:

“Yoga… embodies unity of mind and body; thought and action; restraint and fulfilment; harmony between man and nature; a holistic approach to health and well-being. It is not about exercise but to discover the sense of oneness with yourself, the world and nature.”

The point of yoga is to achieve union between the individual and the Universal Spirit, or between Atman and Brahman, or the small self and the Higher Self, or the Soul and God. The language doesn’t matter, the aim is the same in all mystical traditions and practices – to reach enlightenment.

There are four paths or schools of yoga, and each has a different approach:

  1. Karma Yoga – action and selfless service to others
  2. Jnana Yoga – wisdom and contemplation
  3. Bhakti Yoga – devotion, compassion and worship
  4. Raja Yoga – meditation and mastery of consciousness

Raja Yoga is also called Astanga and is made up of eight practices or stages, known as the Eight Limbs of Yoga. Each stage is equally important and were described by the Indian sage Patanjali over 2,000 years ago in his compilation of Sutras. This is a complete system of yoga that many associate with the asanas, or physical postures of yogic practice, but there’s more to it than that. Here’s a rundown of the eight limbs:

  1. Yama – ethical guidelines and moral restraints
  2. Niyama – positive behaviours and spiritual practices
  3. Asana – physical exercises to align body, mind and spirit
  4. Pranayama – breathing exercises and control
  5. Pratyahara – detachment and withdrawal of the senses
  6. Dharana – deep concentration
  7. Dhyana – meditation
  8. Samadhi – absorption in bliss and oneness

Yoga is about transforming yourself into the best version of you and balancing every aspect of your life: mind, body, emotions, work, philosophy and mysticism. Swami Vivekanada describes the union of yoga like this:

“To the worker, it is union between men and the whole of humanity; to the mystic, between his lower and Higher Self; to the lover, union between himself and the God of love; and to the philosopher, it is union of all existence. This is what is meant by Yoga.”

idy_logo_aboutSo the aim of yoga is to free yourself from illusion and suffering – not to touch your toes! I’ll be using the International Day of Yoga to commit to a regular practice and remind myself why I need to stop resisting reality. The asanas are less important than my attitude and intention. I’ll continue to dream of infinite flexibility and grace, but I won’t be too hard on myself when I fail to live up to my aspirations.

>More on yoga: Spiritual Glossary: Yoga
>Find out more about the International Day of Yoga

 

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19 thoughts on “Yoga Pants: A Day of Yoga (and swearing!)

  1. Good for you! Nothing like a good head stand to get those creative juices flowing. Since I did my Reiki Level 1 certification, I have been so intensely focused on the subtle energetic body that I have neglected my Yoga a bit. I have finally worked my mojo to the point where I can reliably wake up with the sun cycle (four thirty am, recently) and do my Reiki practices — a long standing goal of mine, finally realized. You got me thinking, I should alternate day by day and choose a Yin (feminine) day by the I-Ching for Reiki and a Yang (masculine) day for Yoga.

    My personal approach to yoga is not to follow a system exclusively, I have just cherry picked a ton of Asanas over the years and use them intuitively to target my unique problem areas preventatively in conjunction with Daoist philosophy (e.g. Camel pose for kidneys and adrenal glands before during and after a stressful week at work, especially during a full moon week. Kidneys are controlled by water element the moon intensifies water etc.) If you keep tabs on your astrology you can up the ante on your practice and strengthen your nervous system in preparation for the increased energetic bombardment of certain events relative to your personal chart and physical disposition, so instead of being bowled over by them, you get to ride that energy through on a creative high. It’s like the difference between riding out an ocean wave on a surfboard and creatively working the face of the wave and just getting picked up and dumped by the wave and dragged up onto the shore with your pants and throat full of sand! The more expanded and refined your nervous, glandular and meridian systems becomes through your practice, the bigger the wave you can ride and the more creatively stable you can become with that energy. Happy surfing my friend!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Lee, it sounds like you’ve got your practice pretty honed. There are so many different factors to take into account – inner and outer – it can be hard to work out the best course of action. Probably the best way is to feel your way forward. Too much thinking or trying to analyse patterns can just lead to information overload. I know I sometimes get that way with my horoscope if there’s a lot going on – it’s almost impossible to work out how things are going to play out. Best to just surf the waves, as you say! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I wouldn’t say honed, but it’s getting there. It’s become very regular and gently persistent as opposed to sporadic and intense with big purges of energy or toxicity from the tissues which upsets the bio-chemistry. The key for me has been to get it so interwoven into my routine that it’s like eating and sleeping. In light of that though, even the routine of spiritual practice itself can become an obstacle on the path. So every now and then, I ditch the path and dawdle around in the woods with a can of beer, go to bed late, have some junk food and forgive myself for slouching terribly in front of some trashy TV. Ironically it’s usually at these times that I also receive a great deal of spiritual clarity.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Routine is the key. I’m trying to build new positive routines into my life so I can get all the things done that I want to do. Feels a bit like plate spinning at the moment, but I’ll figure it out! And work in some time to slouch too 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

  2. As I discovered in India there’s a fifth yogic path.
    5. Chillum Yoga – getting really, really stoned with a sadhu.
    I became a devout practitioner while I was there.

    Like

  3. Thanks for writing this. Your educational articles are always a joy to read.
    Good to know that there are various approaches. Jnana yoga seems appealing. It sounds like I don’t need to touch my toes here.

    Liked by 2 people

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