We all have our personal reasons as to why we have taken up a regular yoga practice, and why we keep coming back to it.

What got us hooked?

We might simply like physical activity and how it makes us feel: – stronger and ‘more bendy’. Some might have a health issue they’d like to keep in check with the practice; like back pain, vulnerable knees, diabetes, fatigue or menstrual disorders, to name just a few. Then we come to look at the amazing emotional and mental benefits this practice has to offer, like battling anxiety and depression. That’s when it becomes truly fascinating, because we can’t easily grasp why exactly, yoga is so helpful in these instances.

We have experienced the wonderful sense of peace and calm, that ‘everything is good as it is’ and ‘will continue to be so’; the amazing internal physical and mental strength that assures us that we will be able to face and overcome a difficult and seemingly unachievable hurdle – like my writing a newsletter every month of the year ;)

Often upon discovering the practice, we develop a deep-seated trust that Yoga in all its different forms will help us and bring about desired change for the better. What I personally find utterly convincing with the vast science of Yoga is that it is not an intellectual understanding which is required to create this deep-seated trust that it can help and aid us in various ways; it is the physical experiences during practice, which repeatedly happen, that assist and strengthen this trust and deep comprehension. We aren’t expected to blindly believe this, we let the practice do the convincing. This is how true knowledge is acquired, when an understanding comes naturally and powerfully through a physical experience; when we feel that we have just become a little wiser.

What makes us stay with the practice?

Like every relationship, once the honeymoon has run its course, our love for the other needs consolidating. Over time it requires regular attentiveness so it has a chance to stay fresh, exciting, fruitful, and interesting. We’d like to develop a strong bond. So what keeps our love for Yoga alive?

Helpful tools in Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga

Without doubt – as demanding as our practice is on all levels; physically, emotionally and mentally – it is so very rewarding. It simply works. Like no other method, the Ashtanga Vinyasa system requires us to stay present as we move mindfully with the breath. It also gives us further tools like the bandhas (muscle seals), and dristis (gazing points), which engage us mentally and aid our busy, obsessive mind to become calm through true focus.

On less focussed practice days, applying these techniques gives us a chance to return to a more concentrated state of mind.

An inspiring teacher

Being in the presence of someone who is walking the path of Yoga can help us out of an unmotivated phase in our yoga practice. Recognizing that there is someone who has conquered some of their own demons with Yoga, can be truly inspiring.

Like-minded people – a Yoga Sangha (community)

Equally, other Yoga adepts can have this effect on us; witnessing an associate’s discipline and their resulting growth, will buoy us; having a chat about our practice with other Yoga students after practice can keep us on track.

Connecting with our Essence

Especially in today’s world where so much of our planet is losing its’ natural habitat and becoming over-crowded with concrete sprawl, a small device has the potential to dominate our day – our mobile phone – and sadly is slowly becoming the most important communication tool. So much of our time is spent in artificial environments, like air-conditioned spaces etc., further creating our dis-connect with ‘nature’. Nature obviously relates to our beautiful planet and its elements, but also – and very importantly – it relates to our ‘true nature’. Sutra I.3 states that ‘…when our mind becomes truly refined, when we see clearly and recognize things as they truly are, our true nature can shine forth’. Unfortunately the lack of connection with our essence or who we truly are is radically increasing. This lies at the root of all problems. Witness why Yoga is becoming more and more popular; it returns us to ourselves.

Yoga allows and encourages us to spend time looking within, to get to know ourselves on a deep level. This beautiful and very precious knowledge is given to us freely, if we care to work toward it. The discipline required to practice yoga is rewarded a million times over; with every aspect of our life improving, and becoming more real, more open, more exciting, and more beautiful.

Come and practice!

OM Shanti, Angelika