Thursday, October 30, 2008

My philosophy and teaching style (a peek into my practice)

Just the other day, I was practicing on my own, but feeling less than motivated, yes, even I get that way sometimes, so I put on a random audio yoga track to encourage myself. Nowadays you can download audio yoga classes off the net, some free, some not. Being a teacher myself, I always opt for the ones payable by Paypal, because I know how much effort is put into a class, credit is well deserved. Some you can listen to, several complete practices for free, is http://www.eionfinnyoga.com/ , plus he has such a soothing voice. But the audio track I chose to put on, was by one of the highly acclaimed yoga teacher for Yoga Journal, a young female.

And the moment her voice came on, it was anything but pleasant to my ears, she sounded like she was in a rush, and less then welcoming. I was about to switch off her audio track, when I chided myself, because I remembered that it's never about the teacher, but really about my own personal attitude towards my practice. Yoga begins with an attitude. Beyond everything else which goes on in your day, it's the attitude which you bring to class, so I consciously made a wide awake decision to accept the audio teacher's unpleasant voice and go with the flow. The first couple of minutes were the hardest, I struggled not to run to my player to turn off the audio track but another little voice in me spoke up, I was reminded that it's not how we fast we can run away from the unpleasant experience but how we deal with it, which makes up our yoga practice and that inevitably affects how we deal with similar discomforts in daily life. Yoga builds character. In yoga we are taught that all experiences are only temporary, the pleasant and unpleasant. Although some Swamis would strongly digress by saying that there is no pleasant or unpleasant, there is only remaining unattached and aloof, merely watching the experience. Osho says, be the experience, be in totality with the experience. More often than not, we end up fleeting the unpleasant situation, and not learning a single thing from it. Pain/irritation or unpleasant/unfavourable experiences can be our greatest teachers, if you want them to be, emphasis on "if you let them". In a heavily sedated society of the comforts of a good life, we are taught the "fight or flight" response to an unfavourable situation. Osho says don't fight, because you are only fighting yourself, fleet from it and you have missed the lesson intended for you to learn. So I stopped fighting the irritation, and neither did I flee from the irritation. I stayed with it, I nurtured an astounding amount of acceptance of the unpleasantness but most importantly, acceptance for myself, to accept just the way I am. And with that new found acceptance, I had reaffirmed self love, a feeling of the world inside me, and me inside the world and I couldn't ask for anything more. I can't find any better way to describe it. It's a beautiful feeling.

By then I was already half way into the audio track, and really riding the breath, there was no longer any irritation for the voice, but only a purity which was left in it's wake. I found that through acceptance, we transcend, transcend ourselves, and become closer to our inner true selves, the Atma, where bliss is possible. Throughout my practice that day, like any usual practice, I was using the Ujjayi breathing(it's the Darth Vader breath you hear rather audibly in class). There were points in my postures where I could feel vastness of space in my upper back, and midback. I wish there was a word in English to describe the feeling of wonderful spaciousness. My breath had gone straight into to my upperback, I was no longer thinking about the physical part of my posture but had become the breath. Each breath I took, I was breathing into pure space. To an extent, this feeling of openness and fluid space equally scared me too. I could really only hear myself "being breathed by the great Breath" as Sally Kempton puts it, I couldn't agree with her more. To me, my breathing sounded like inner roars of the ocean, and I wondered if I was still on earth but I knew better of course, that's the experience of breath, a journey inwards. As some would teachers say, the only way out is in. There's a fulfilling state of calm when we manage to breathe seamlessly and fuse that with yoga postures. I can only describe the "texture" of the breath as weightless and expansive. At the end of the practice, I am filled with such gratitude for the lesson I learned, just being bringing and keeping the right attitude towards my practice. So to wrap that up, yoga starts with an attitude, and "ends" with character building.

That's all for now,

Lots of light and love,

Namaste.