09 Aug Is Vanity and Narcissism killing Yoga?
Why are you doing yoga? This is a very valid and important question? Why are we taking up the practice of yoga? During my early years with my family, yoga meant being of service to God (Karma Yoga), Singing to the Gods (Bhakti Yoga), learning the scriptures (Jnana Yoga) and keeping yourself healthy (Hatha Yoga). Now, in my late 40’s, I am constantly reminded of yoga being a “look what contortion or arm balance I can do”! That’s not Yoga! And it never was! Finding inner tranquility, being in harmony with yourself and your surroundings and working on a path towards Self Realization is Yoga’s primary goal. Spending tons of money on expensive yoga outfits (money or no money), then money on yourself for cosmetic procedures to look good in your outfits, along with killing your physical and mental self all day to get that much needed 1minute perfect Instagram shot does not qualify for it to be yoga. It’s our own doing I guess though. The way it has been marketed and stigmatized over the decades. But, it is real and it really is happening out there. If you truly and sincerely are on the yogic path then armour yourself with self compassion and loving kindness towards yourself just the way you are. Bring absolute honest authenticity to your identity. This is Santosha, the Niyama of contentment. Be content in the shape and skin that your blessed with and work towards bettering yourself without shattering yourself with self critique or staring into the mirror til you only see what you wish to see. Here’s a true story of myself. I used to want those perfect shapely legs growing up because I was born with knocked knees. As my yoga practice deepened I noticed millions of humans are born with this same leg bone structure and that I never was alone. I practiced more and more of santosha and embraced my body with all of its flaws (and trust me, there are plenty)! Being able to walk is a blessing! Screw the leg shape! Be perfect in being you. Nothing else, just your own wonderful human self. Is self image important? Of course it is. It helps with your confidence. I am presentable, well dressed and groomed. Feeling good inside will only add to your happiness and allow the aging process to be done with grace and integrity. However, we want to try our best to not let our self image overrun where it controls our mind and our personalities. If you want to lost weight then do the yoga asanas along with a good healthy, balanced clean diet. If you want to be strong and flexible then do the yoga asanas also with a good nutritional diet. If you want to age gracefully then let the lines on your face show that you have lived life fully and happily and begin to carry wisdom with your age. Daily practice of Pranayama, meditation and light asanas will allow the body to age perfectly along with organic vegan fatty oils to keep the joints supple. However, with all that said, if to you yoga is just a bunch of exercises and you enjoy looking at yourself then at least try to enjoy being the witness of it all. We all have our views on yoga, my message in this focus is be careful not to miss the bigger picture of what Yoga truly has to offer. It’s much much more than just the poses!
Asana of the Week – Hanumanasana (Split pose)
This is always a tester on the mat and experienced yoga teachers can straight away see which student is pushing it too hard to get the hips down out of ego Or which student is coming from a place of honouring the body and it’s limitations. Entering Hanuman comes with grace and integrity. Go to fast and your physical body will yell at you (for a long time), go too slow and you’ll never get there. So, enjoy the process of watching and feeling the hips open along with the hamstrings and eventually taking up the variations to strengthen the spinal cord. Definitely smile whilst doing this asana, it helps trust me. Freeze your face and breath and your body too will freeze.
Mantra for this week: Lokah Samastha Sukhino Bhavanthu
May all divine sentient beings be free, happy and joyous! This includes you too.
Ps; Your smile is worthless, keep smiling and do not miss a moment of your life.