As we know yoga is a generic term and more accurately it is a path which leads to self-evolvement, upliftment and refinement of qualities in practitioners. But most of the times yoga is mistaken as a set of physical techniques, which reduces the scope of this discipline of self transformation to merely some sort of sports and physical endeavor.
Approaching yoga ‘Yogic way’
When we practice in yoga class our approach in the session guide our whole endeavor in right direction provided it is based on yogic principles. Following are a few principles for practitioners of yoga which will help them to be on right track:
Principle of “Here and Now”
One of the main ingredients of yogic journey is to ground our awareness in ‘here and now’. If your awareness is not grounded in the moment while practicing asana or any other techniques then you are not doing yoga. Advancement of practices does not imply that one should do difficult asana or become more flexible but doing it with awareness. Asanas help us to enhance and deepen our awareness of the body no matter how easy or difficult posture is. A beginner will practice even difficult poses with scattered awareness and whereas someone who is established in yoga will do practices with focus and un-dissipated awareness. Asanas (Yoga poses), pranayama (Yogic breathing) or meditations are the various tools of yoga to sharpen our awareness and discipline the mind-body complex. When your awareness is scattered then your mental energies are dissipated most of the time and you end up devitalizing yourself. To be focused and aware is the first and the foremost training in yoga class. And this is the meaning of ’being grounded’ in true sense.
Non-competitive; letting go
Yogic process has always been an individualized process. It is all about the individual who has embarked on the path of self transformation. The focus in the sessions is to withdraw the awareness and to capture the experience in here and now moment. Philosophy of yogic teaching is ‘’to be who you are’’.
Therefore any distraction in the classes should be avoided and one needs to be more accepting to one’s own self. Respecting one’s own limitations and proceeding from there is one important element of yogic path. The present state of one’s body and mind is the result of various events, issues as well as experiences of past which are to be resolved at individual level. Therefore comparison of two practitioners should not be done in session as each one carries unique set of experiences, limitations as well as strengths within one self. This is the path you tread alone. A non-competitive awareness helps one to let go the same set of mentality which one carries all day long which creates frustration, tensions, anger, restlessness and dissatisfaction in life.
Any transformation taking place in the moment is more important than ‘’what you were’’ or ‘’what you will become’’. If yogic practices are done with this awareness than the whole process becomes more immersive and transformative.
In every yoga class there should be an element of mindfulness and practitioners should be aware of the effects of yoga techniques on the body-mind complex. We should always be in touch with the body and listen to it while practicing. One of the important codes of yoga journey is to follow Ahimsa (non-violence). Ahimsa is not always for others but it starts with one’s own self. Honoring the pain and having attitude of compassion with non-competitive attitude should go hand in hand. This requires lots of self-reflection and self-acceptance during the practice. The ultimate purpose of practicing yoga is not to satisfy just one’s ego and performing under peer pressure in the class. Rather yoga is a journey of self-transformation, self-awareness and inner growth.
Sushant is Meditation & Philosophy Teacher and Academic Director at Rishikesh Yogis. Sushant carries long years of experience teaching practical as well as philosophical aspects of Kundalini yoga, Kriya yoga, Hatha Yoga and Tantra philosophy.