Do you remember when you first fell in love with yoga? The first time you innocently followed your teacher’s instructions, not really knowing what to expect? You were curious; just trying out what was suggested, a pure approach, that of the novice. Then you might have had that small, but memorable experience; maybe a sense of being at ease, simply happy with what there was in that particular moment. Everything that previously bothered you was falling away, life felt good, and nothing could get to you; the subtle sense of connecting with an inherent deep-seated joy… our first and very personal experience of – Yoga. This feeling of wholeness, abundance, deep satisfaction or happiness most likely came unexpectedly; at the moment you noticed it, there wasn’t the thought “I am happy right now”, you simply “were”. The thought about it came only later.

I imagine you can agree – nothing else can replace this feeling. Think of a wonderfully cooked meal; it pleases the senses, it satisfies us, and we feel grateful. Nevertheless, this sensation is fairly short-lived. And if during your eating of this sumptuous food something is affecting your mood, it will most likely taint the experience; consequently, the sating of the senses is not a reliable source of fulfillment.

We look for gratification of the senses as a means to bring us happiness. This happiness will only ever last for as long as you are stimulating that particular sense, AND only if the experience lives up to your expectations. This is called ‘Raga’, one of the Kleshas, meaning ‘afflictions of the mind’; when we seek to repeat a beautiful experience we previously had. This degree of satisfaction will never equal the rapture experienced after a concentrated yoga session, which made you feel at ease, and where the focus of your senses was directed inward.

As we all know, Yoga has become big business. To lure students, a lot of emphasis is placed on the external. It is often about appearance, instant gratification, and the ‘entertainment’ of the mind. We are meant to believe that wearing the right yoga gear, belonging to a particular yoga ‘club’, or attending the latest music/yoga event, will bring us liberation.

Yoga can provide you with the most beautiful experiences, internally and externally, which really is good news. You will however have to put in some consistent effort, and face your demons. The truth is that the way to true freedom is to learn and practice the simple focusing on the breath, without having those comforting distractions around you.

A yoga magazine recently suggested that: “…if you ever get bored of your yoga practice try these yoga hybrids….” Unfortunately, trying something else is just a short-lived fix. It defeats the purpose of the practice of Yoga altogether, and boredom surely will set in again, as soon as the excitement of the new distractions have worn off.

The solution to this issue is very simple, but also a challenge, a paradox that can be overcome: – stick to your practice of breathing in and breathing out, with your mind fully absorbed by the breath. When there is true focus when moving with the breath, and true focus on the breath when sitting still – especially at the end of an asana practice (postures) – there won’t be any boredom!

It is the simple continuous effort to stay in the present moment, through which you might get a sweet glimpse of ‘boundless joy’.

Come and practice,

OM Shanti
Angelika