On february 2015 I went to my first yoga class looking for a way to stay active and complement ballet. However, little by little, I discovered that practicing yoga is more than a physical exercise made up of a series of complicated postures; it is a state that involves the connection of the body, mind, and soul. Yoga literally, in Sanskrit, means union.
Back then I was part of a church group where practicing yoga was frowned upon…they said that it was satanic and I don’t know what else. Quoting Herodotus “The only good is knowledge, the only evil is ignorance.” What I think they don’t know is that one of the niyamas, or rules on which the practice of yoga is based is devotion – Ishvara Pranidhana. Practically this encourages cultivating a deep relationship of trust with a God. It involves believing and trusting in a supreme being. Sure, this may be what we prefer. If we look for more information about the niyamas and yamas, we’ll realize that they’re basically universal rules of morality, common in all religions.
Continuing with my yoga experience…one of the things that hit me the most is the breathing, as it is an involuntary physiological process that’s already in us and that we often take for granted and this takes our toll on us. How many panic attacks or how many angry outbursts could we regulate if we learned to breathe consciously?
Anthony de Mello differentiated two types of consciousness or awareness. One is the faculty of discerning between good and evil. The other is the intuitive knowledge that one has of oneself and of the surrounding environment. (N. of Ed). This brings me to the next question. How intuitive are we of ourselves? For my part, I struggle with this every day. So much technology, so many social networks, and so many responsibilities can make us disconnect from ourselves and this is serious, since if we are little aware of ourselves, how can we realize patterns of thought, emotions, or behavior that no longer serve us? And if we’re not aware of them, how do we intend to change them? It doesn’t make sense, right?
Yoga, besides the multiple physical benefits (topic for another day), helps us focus on the present, on the here and now. It also helps us stay young…do you know that your spine’s flexibility is said to be what really determines your age? So for those who want to fight aging, you should rather invest in body posture than botox.
On june 21 the international day of yoga is celebrated and I’m so grateful to have found this practice, not only because it has helped me to reverse a bit my scoliosis curves (again, topic for another day) but for everything I’ve learned along the way. Through yoga I’ve been able to lose and find myself at the same time. The mat has received me with all my emotions: sadness, expectation, resentment, discouragement, anger, excitement... and at the end, I always find peace, precisely because I know that in those moments I’m alone with Sofi and that’s enough…everything else is in pause, everything else can wait and will be as it should be, not as I pretend it to be. I’m not going to lie to you, there are days when I feel lazy and don’t feel like it but getting to the mat is the difficult part, once you’re there, everything flows, even on the most complicated days. Take my word for it,
Now, five years later, it’s no longer a complementary exercise for ballet, it’s a habit that promotes flexibility not only physical but also psychological. You learn to bend in every way. There’s a very popular quote that says “I bend so I don’t break”…this implies freeing ourselves from that need for control and accepting, surrendering, and letting go…using that tool that’s already set up on us…our breath. In addition, you get to know yourself better and this lately leads you to accept yourself and stop comparing yourself with others. By realizing your strengths and limitations, you recognize these sides in other people and it becomes easier to be more tolerant and understanding with them…after all, we close each practice by saying Namaste, which means: the light in me honors the light in you.
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