In the modern world it is very common to hear people referring to yoga term as “going to the yoga class” or “going to practice yoga”. Most likely then not it means going to do asana class, which may or may not include some pranayama techniques, or at best 5 minutes of meditation.
I have had 16 years experience in “yoga practice” as such, however, only 3 years out of these 16 were spent consciously practicing actual yoga, which is something totally different to the popular knowledge.
I too used to think that to be good at yoga meant to be able to perform advanced asanas, and that if I could just do that handstand or splits, I would be highly regarded in the yoga community. It was a rather innocent and a little naive ambition, more so a lack of understanding and true knowledge, and simply put, ignorance.
My transformation happened gradually in regards to grasping what true yoga practice actually meant, what those Indian Rishis were talking about sanctuaries ago. My understanding was coming together like puzzle pieces, appearing from different sources of wisdom.
The first big AHA moment came during my Yoga Teacher Training in Rishikesh. I still remember my philosophy teacher, a friendly Monk, Swamiji, who so effortlessly spoke about the pancha koshas, and of the 8 limbs of Patanjali Ashtanga Yoga. He opened the door for the greater wisdom to flow through.
After returning from Rishikesh back to Melbourne I made a commitment to myself that from that point on I would embrace wholeheartedly the yogic lifestyle. That didn’t mean going to meditate with hardly any clothes on in the Himalayas, or renouncing my friends and family and living a solitary life sitting in meditation. While it is certainly a choice of someone else in this incarnation, for me personally it meant something totally different.
What i was called to do was to live my life according to Patanjali’s 8 Limbs of Yoga, especially Yamas and Niyamas – the personal and social codes of behaviour. I was called to embody my Soul and ground the spirit into matter. Being a physical spirit and living fully as a Soul having a human experience on Earth, healing my Self, or rather, remembering my true Self, my true identity, and anchoring it into the physical dimension, and while doing so, being an example to others to follow.
A huge role in my further understanding of the meaning of yogic lifestyle played the reading of the sacred book Bhagavad Gita, as well as Autobiography of a Yogi. I started to see the reality in a more profound way, which gave more meaning to my own life.
Furthermore, the studies of Ayurveda, uniting it with Yoga, and using both sister sciences first for personal healing, and later the healing of others played a huge role in establishing my faith in the Divine, in my own Self as a part of the Divine.
While working to heal my physical body i was acutely aware of my emotional, mental, intellectual and spiritual bodies all coming to more alignment. It was a slow process, however, it did take many years and lifetimes to create the illusion of separation and live life following blind untruthful beliefs about my self and Universe at large.
The path of liberation is not for the weak, for it requires commitment and dedication. It requires being able to see the truth of who you are and be brave enough to claim it. The yogic path is not limited to asana practice only, it is primarily the path of spiritual unity with the material existence, the being in this world but not of it. It really is not easy to walk yogic path in the modern world of Kali Yug, the time of deep ignorance on the planet, however, it is the only path to the freedom of the mind, the path to peace, to true joy.