Yoga: This Term

Yoga returns this week, Wdnesday, 26 February for 6 weeks. There are two evening classes: 1800 and 1930.

Last term we discussed yoga practice as a space where we are engaged not zoned out. One of the fruits of yoga might be feelings of relaxation but this is not the practice. During practice we are engaged and aware. There is a relationship between the mind and the body, guided and informed by the breath.

As the term progressed, we also discussed the more technical sides of asana (postures). The physical aspect of yoga is important. We all have bodies that need care and attention. However what we do with the body is a small part of practice.

If you have been coming to yoga for a while, hopefully you will appreciate that our practice moves from the gross to the subtle. The body is the most gross part of us. The internal, still and unchanging principle is the most subtle. Asanas encourage strength and flexibility so we can live without restriction but also so we can sit with ease in order to reflect and meditate. Meditation is not a space of emptyness. It is a space of engaged awareness where the mind is focused. We connect with something deeper and this is a moment where transformation can occur – ‘we can be touched‘ (Roy & Charlton).

(c) Jared Rice/Unsplash

The sitting at the end of practice is the most wonderful space and is so often the part that people walk away from. If you are practising at home but time is short then a breathing practice and sitting is often more beneficial than moving the body. Tight muscles relax as much as the mind.

The practice of yoga offers the possibility to return to centre, to stop being slaves to our mind and senses. Just standing with the breath brings us back to ground and allows the stress we have accumulated to dispel. Yoga can encourage us to stay in this still centre rather than that still part of us being elusive and obscured by life. This does not take us away from life but rather firmly places us in it. Knowing our own centre, shape and space creates stability and clarity for ourselves and those we are in relationship with.

During practice we aim to be focused and channel the attention of the mind, becoming increasingly engaged. We aim to achieve a state where the mind is ‘restrained’ or ‘arrested’ (nirodha). In this state, meditative absorption or samadhi is more possible.

You cannot force samadhi but through practice you can create the environment where it is more likely to happen: Enlightenment or samadhi is an accident but practice makes you more accident prone.

And finally:

The simplest practice can produce the most profound results if approached with the right attitude. This is real yoga.

Embodying the Yoga Sutra, Ranju Roy and David Charlton

Looking forward to the term ahead. Our asana practice will focus on neck and shoulders and the relationship with the breath.

Here is the link to the blog that talks about last term with references to the book ‘Embodying Yoga’: this-term-what-is-yoga