What is Yoga – Being Connected

In the endeavour to be part of the full life that surrounds us, staying ‘connected’, and up to date with the latest trends, living the ‘Zeitgeist’ – which literally means ‘the spirit of the age’ – there is so much on offer and so much to do. We find our attention drawn in many different directions, to the point of overwhelm. It is hard to keep up with all of the demands in our daily lives, and – as we are well aware –the internet gives us immediate access to almost everything we desire. Needless to say, we don’t get much downtime anymore.

We easily lose our focus when engaged in one activity, when suddenly we are moving on to the next item on our, or another’s agenda. The ability to truly concentrate on one thing for a longer period of time eludes us; and this could even be during a conversation with a close friend.

In many of us the term ‘being connected’ triggers the thought of social media, where often the online persona we have created, has not much to do with the real person. In reality, instead of ‘being connected’, we are facing an overwhelming number of daily commitments to fulfill, emails, phone calls and texts to answer etc. So how to deal with this best?

Unfortunately true connectedness, that of being connected with ourselves and our beautiful planet, is not always at the forefront of our thoughts.

Yoga teaches us that everything begins and is founded on being connected with ‘Self’. Suited to our human nature where true understanding happens step by step and requires effort and patience, Yoga offers a structured path with which we can gain true connectedness.

On a gross level, i.e. when using our physical body to practice the postures, we learn to be comfortable in our own skin. We become more aware of changes in our bodies, be they good or not so good. The one tool always available to us any time, anywhere, which can reconnect us and bring us back into the present moment, which eases the strains of pressure, anxiety or feeling flat, is – the breath! The quality of our breath at this moment will provide us with valuable feed-back as to what physical, emotional and mental state we are in. Especially in Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga, where we link the movement to our breath in an ‘intelligent’ way, and practice the postures with breath awareness. This is Yoga at it’s most effective.

It is the best preparation for when we continue to explore Yoga on all other levels, like the practice of pranayama, meditation and also delving into Yoga philosophy. We will learn about the subtle currents in our system. We can experience not only the exciting opening of joints and muscles, but also the bringing to life, the invigorating and free flow of the ‘nadis’ – energy tubes – and ‘chakras’ – energy wheels. This can take some time to experience. I remember my skepticism upon learning about these energy systems, when I first started out with Yoga.

But years of practice and a lot of ‘looking inward’ rather than ‘looking outward’, have allowed me to witness some of the energy currents in my body, and experience some blissful moments of the release of blockages.

To become aware of these bodily and energetic subtleties in our amazing beings, we need to first master a level of endurance, and to sustain deep mental focus for a lengthy period of time. Experiencing moments of deep stillness, insight and – ‘connectedness’ with ourselves, allows for the opening of our hearts, and brings about the ability to love ourselves, to mention just one of the riches this practice can bring. This in turn improves the way we relate to those around us, further enriching our relationships. We will acquire increased levels of love for other beings. We will be happy to just be with ourselves, and through that enjoy the company of others with less, and hopefully one day without any, expectations. There will be a sense of calm, kindness, and spaciousness around us, which others will pick up, and will therefore feel much more at ease in our company.

Practice Yoga, and with the increase of self-knowledge, confidence, strength – emotional and mental – and self-love, each moment of your life has the potential to become more fulfilling. You will be more present and connected with those around you, because you are connected with your innermost being – the ‘purusha’.

OM Shanti,