In the modern world, Yogis are revered as calm, bendy, enlightened figures with enviable physical and mental stability. This can be a far journey away from the distractions and limitations of everyday life. The pictures we see online do not always seem attainable. If you want to begin on the path to becoming a Yogi, know that your Yoga path isn’t about following one strict set of rules or changing around your entire life to become a Yogi.
The path to Yoga starts where you are right now.
Asana are the physical postures that assist us in finding comfort in the body for our yoga journey to occur. We often associate Yoga strictly with bending and contorting into these poses, but Yoga is so much more than just the asana.
The eight limbs of Yoga provide a roadmap for our practice. Asana is only one of these eight limbs, and must be practiced alongside the others, including pranayama. Pranayama translates to “life force,” and is the fuel that keeps us alive, moving and growing on our journey as a Yogi.
What is pranayama?
If you want to become a Yogi, the first step is breathing and being mindful of your breath. Follow your inhales and exhales as you practice asana, meditate or go about your everyday tasks. Adjust your focus to the direction of your breath and how it moves throughout your body. When we take a long, deep breath, we allow our bodies to relax and build an environment for us to focus inward.
Finding balance is more than just a physical activity. We find ourselves searching for balance in all areas of our life: balancing work with play, balancing our relationship with ourselves with our relationship with others, balancing comfort and challenge, etc. We recongise these opposing forces as dualities in life. These extend past our lifestyle: light vs. dark, male vs. female, good vs. evil, painful vs. pleasant, etc. Opposing forces are constantly pulling us one way or the other, causing imbalance and disharmony.
Rather than looking at these opposing forces as a struggle, our Yoga journey towards balance looks at the world through the lens of Advaita, or “non-duality.”
Non-duality is a perspective that views the universe and every piece of the universe as One. We are not a part of the universe; we are the universe. Darkness is not different than light; they are One. Our mind, body, and soul are not three separate entities; they are One. As such, we are not comfortable or uncomfortable in pain or pleasure, we just are.
This is not a perspective that one can develop overnight. Take this journey slowly by starting to recognise dualities in your life and how you can connect to each of these dualities.
Where do we currently stand? Where do we have to go in order to take our first steps as a Yogi?
The answers can’t be found in an Instagram post or a new pair of yoga pants. Instead, start to look inward and reflect on your personal journey as a Yogi.
Turning inward could include:
- Putting away distractions (social media, television, etc.)
- Meditating with a guided or sound meditation
- Journaling or writing poetry
- Doing other creative activities (painting, sculpting,
- Taking a yoga class
Let’s focus back to the eight limbs of Yoga. The first limb of Yoga explains the Yamas, or ethical guidelines for living the life of a Yogi. The first of these yamas is ahimsa, which translates to “non-violence.” Living a life of non-violence includes being non-violent with yourself. Speak kindly to yourself as you start your Yoga journey and understand that the path to Yoga doesn’t look the same for everyone. Do not look to Instagram or advertisements; look to yourself and move forward at your own pace.
Yoga is NOT About Handstands or Instagram.
The path to yoga is often misconstrued by what we see on social media. Ads for expensive activewear are posted by Yogis who boast an impressive social media following and consistently post complicated inversions. Handstands are simply one small piece of Yoga, and it is not on the path for every Yogi. Do not be discouraged or rely on the journey of another Yogi to determine your personal path.
If you are ever stuck in a place on your Yoga journey and don’t know where to move next, turn inward. Find a quiet place for meditation or visit a yoga class and listen to what your mind, body, and soul are telling you.
Ready to visit a Yoga class in Collingwood? Our studio is located right off of Smith Street in Collingwood, less than 50m from an 86 tram stop at Keele Street. Join us for some yoga, a cup of tea and a chat with our friendly and welcoming team, about how each of these practices can be integrated into your Yoga journey.