There is a lot of “yoga” out there right now. A boom has occurred and every gym, fitness spot, grassy area, and beach is now offering “yoga.” There are live streams, videos, Youtube channels, memberships, subscriptions and more. Learn to differentiate between those that are Yoga and the rest.
What Is Yoga?
There are 8 specific aspects to the practice of Yoga. When all are included, you are practicing Yoga.
1) Yama: Restraint/Direction/Control
2) Niyama: Observation/Self Control
3) Pranayama: Directed Breathing
4) Asana: Intentional Movement
5) Pratyahara: Sense Withdrawal
6) Dharana: Focused Concentration
7) Dhyana: Meditation
8) Samadhi: Integration
To explain each of these in depth is a much deeper conversation. For those of you seeking a deeper understanding or wishing to learn more about the history and philosophies of Yoga, begin by joining a class. A high quality teacher will incorporate these terms and explain them as they apply to what happens on and off of your mat.
Technique is Important
Asana (Yoga poses) change the way we move. The technique behind each position is important because it forces us to think and focus upon the way in which we are habitually using our bodies. Your teacher should be cueing postures in very specific ways in order to encourage you to redirect your attention and consider your habits. The value lies in understanding how to execute the postures well. Once you have developed this skill, then you can begin to move more quickly and gracefully through them.
Did you know that Yoga has influenced most of the major spiritual practices in the world? Ancient Indians were seeking answers. They wanted to know why the world is the way it is. They were studying the stars, the Earth and human nature. During class you should be learning about the philosophies and history of Yoga as well as how to integrate the practices into your life. Learning about the history of Yoga and the various practices that stemmed from it will help you to develop a deeper understanding and discernment among the various styles that have branched from the roots of the practice.
Yoga is something that we do all of the time. It happens on your mat, in the lobby, in your car and as you travel through the world. Your teacher should be giving you homework. As they teach, they should be offering focus points and concepts to consider. After you complete your mat practice (Asana) you may feel calm, steady and at ease. In your mind, though, there should be something that you carry out with you. Something that you consider beyond the mat. You should feel as though you are ready to make a tiny change or shift in your life that might just make things better. If you leave sweaty, tired and feeling like you got a work out, then you did, but it wasn’t Yoga.
If you just chose this blog because of the title, take a moment to reflect upon that which you were hoping to get from reading it. Begin with these two words: “Yoga” and “Brand.” These two words inherently do not fit together. A brand is something that had been manufactured. Yoga is a practice that was discovered thousands of years ago. A brand is owned, distributed and sold. Yoga is none of these. It is everywhere, to be lived by anyone, for free. Yoga is not a product.
[The first space in which Raja Hatha Yoga was practiced in Lake Tahoe.]
Location, Location, Location
A brand is all about looking good. The right location, models, lighting, attitude, motto, all matters. You have to consider the demographic and customer you are trying to reach. You have to sell.
This is not Yoga. No matter how hard I try to sell you on trying for the first time, second, going somewhere new, attempting a different approach, or convincing you that it will change your life, you have to be ready to become a Yoga practitioner.
No matter how pretty or new or shiny the studio space. No matter how sexy, strong or flexible those joining the class may be, you have to be ready to change yourself. Yoga is not about location. It is about mindset.
No matter how good you are at posing you will still need practice in order to discover Yoga. Sure, you may look good in your Lululemon pants and your Athleta top while you are handstand floating to the front of your mat. Regardless of your ability to access Virabhadrasana Eka or Ashtavrakasana we all have to keep practicing to work within.
Yoga is not a show. It is a practice of mindful movement, breath, and ultimately letting go of expectations. When you practice it may be with a large group, small group or individually. The space in which you practice, style that you choose and those with whom you join in are not what matter. It is your attitude that makes the difference.
Are you here to be seen or to See?
Who are You Following?
A brand sells because you desire to be like that which you see. Fit, strong, relaxed, affluent, happy, whatever it is you desire, the company selling is doing everything they can to convince you that their product will change you. We all know that it won't. No piece of clothing, yoga mat, block, strap, or new tool is going to make you a better person. Only you can do that.
Before beginning, trying again, or returning to the practice consider what you are seeking in a teacher. Seek out a guide who is knowledgeable beyond Asana and who understands and practices the philosophies of Yoga. Find someone who is authentically themselves all of the time. Your teacher should be real, dedicated, truthful, vibrant and fearless to be themselves no matter what. For this will encourage you to do the same.
If you are considering beginning, trying again, or returning to the practice and would like advice, guidance or assistance please reach out to Jenay. Whether choosing Lake Tahoe Yoga or another location in which to practice she is happy to provide support to anyone interested in practicing Yoga.
Jenay, E-RYT, Director
Jenay, a 500 hour Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher, directs and teaches at Lake Tahoe Yoga Studio.
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