Yoga is Relationship
“The success of yoga does not
lie in the ability to perform postures
but in how it positively changes
the way we live our life and our relationships.”
– T.K.V. Desikachar
Recent research revealed – so a good friend tells me – that most people started yoga because of its physical benefits, but that most people who kept up the practice, stay with it for the mental benefits it brings them. This, and the very warm welcome I received when returning from an extended overseas stay, made me reflect on ‘Yoga is Relationship’.
When I was first introduced to this phrase, I wondered what its author was trying to convey. Now, years later, I recognise the importance of this notion, and of how one can apply it to so many levels in one’s life.
A rather obvious and beautiful discovery we make after a yoga practice is how we tend to connect so well with everyone around us. We smile at people just for the sake of it, and we see them smiling back at us!
An unfortunate sequence of events on any day in our lives might usually have resulted in a personal disagreement with a colleague, friend, or spouse. But this time we manage to handle it in a much more peaceful and constructive manner. People simply find you good to be around or want to spend time with you. And this brings me to mention the oft-used phrase; ‘what goes around comes around’.
Through Yoga, our relationships with people around us, to a greater or lesser degree, are improving. Yoga also gives us a greater sense of Self. We feel more ‘connected’. We gain the ability to recognise and therefore honour our own needs more. By learning to find more balance between pushing ourselves and backing off/letting go, we are able to reclaim our self-esteem and the ability to love ourselves. After all, we are usually our own worst critic or enemy.
Regular asana practice teaches us to become, or to stay aware, of all parts of our body at any given time; this greatly improves the way we move in the world – with sensitivity and grace.
Physical flexibility allows for a freer way of being and spontaneity comes more naturally to us. Then when needed, we can more easily switch to a contemplative, reflected mode of being.
All up, we are gaining a healthier body and feel more energetic, as well as gaining a sense of peace for most of the time. Also, we are simply happier. Yoga is about improving our relationship with ourselves.
The classic definition of the word Yoga is the ‘union between the Universal Self and the individual Self’. For many, either immediately or some time after having regularly practiced, comes the understanding that there is something greater than us, which is also determining the course of our lives. It’s a notion which we are free to adopt or not. Yet another aspect of Yoga that I love – We can learn to foster a relationship with the Divine.
Those more familiar with North Sydney Yoga and our teachings have many times been encouraged to observe their state of mind and emotions during their daily activities. We often advise Yoga students to adopt beneficial ways of breathing, and to apply some simple rules in how to deal with those around us, as well as ourselves, for a more harmonious, and smooth ride through the day. Growing self-awareness and awareness of others, as well as love for ourselves and others, increases the quality of life tremendously.
Surrounding ourselves with like-minded people, being part of a ‘sangha’ – community – helps, too. This is what I experienced when having returned from being in my motherland for a few weeks; everyone had done their very best and more, to keep the yoga school ticking along beautifully. So much love and care had gone into the upkeep and smooth running of classes etc, it was very touching.
Thanks to all my beautiful teachers, who are such devoted practitioners and scholars of yoga, and all my apprentices and students.