The Yoga Experience
What is it like to practice Yoga?
You can’t describe the flavour and sweetness of honey until you have tasted it. It’s a bit like that with Yoga. You have to try it.
One won’t be able to embrace it on an intellectual level only, it is definitely a physical experience. Regardless of which aspect of Yoga you are practicing, may it be postures, breathing exercises or meditation, it will always be your whole body which is responding and evolving in some way or another. Yoga will always be experiential.
One of the Buddhist teachings explains that truly deep insight only happens when something has been understood on a physical level. Yoga is the perfect expression of this idea: It often happens that at the end of a practice one is suddenly gaining an insight into an issue, which could be even unrelated to the practice just completed. Responsible for this is the even and free energy flow created by practicing, freeing up blockages in the body, not only physically, but also emotionally and mentally, leaving you feeling balanced with a wonderful sense of harmony.
Equally when you perform a set of postures of different levels of complexity, without doubt you’ll come across some which are challenging, resulting in an emotional response in you. You might feel refreshingly inspired and ambitious to master the posture; or the opposite; frustrated, inadequate, or even angry and irritable about your seemingly slow progress. This can be a reflection of how we face challenging situations in life.
BUT what always happens as well within one practice – and this is why we get hooked! – is that some aspects of the practice are achievable, also for the pure, seemingly hopeless, beginner (you’ll be surprised at how much you can actually do!). There is a lot of fun to be had. It is exhilarating feeling one’s body come alive, feeling empowered, a sense of lightness and ease sets in, both physically and emotionally. You will feel energised and motivated.
Yes, of course, any physical activity can make you feel great; but the difference with Yoga is that next to the beautiful effects it has on your body, you mind also benefits. As you are encouraged to watch your breath throughout the practice, you will become mindful and constantly aware, residing in the present moment. Bothering thoughts, worries or hurt, are suspended for some time, allowing you to eventually look at issues from a distance, gaining a different perspective and insight. Feelings of understanding, compassion and forgiveness can arise naturally, as well as a rational analysis of a situation and strength and courage to face it appropriately.
If you practice postures on a regular basis, you will feel much happier in your own skin, having fun with your body. You will feel much more comfortable sitting still for an extended period of time; like this the more subtle practices of breathing exercises and meditation are in much closer reach. Both bring great vitality, clarity of mind, joy, intelligence, insight, and ultimately ecstasy.
Practicing regularly with light-heartedness, correct technique, and discipline, definitely opens up the potential to change your life for the better. To begin with it might just be the wonderful sensation of complete relaxation, you experience at the end of a yoga class, where you feel totally contented, and even ‘blissed out’. The more regularly you get onto the yoga mat over a longer period of time, the more your practice will become consolidated, and with it you will experience increased feelings of physical and emotional strength, confidence, and resolve. You will cope with difficult situations more easily, learning to let go and detach yourself from expectations.
It is a wonderful feeling to be able to fully engage with someone honestly, openly, with acceptance and no ill-will, regardless of their behaviour; practicing tolerance and gaining the ability to truly listen to someone.
Become the better version of you, become free and reveal your true beautiful Self.
Try Yoga, and if you are already practicing it, do it more often.