In the western world, yoga is rather known for its physical practice. Practicing yoga and meditation help getting to know your own body better and improves your strength and flexibility. Also, it improves concentration and relaxes.
Doing yoga teacher training in India, I got to know so much more about yoga: yoga philosophy, Ayurveda, anatomy, Shatkarma, pranayama, and meditation. The yoga philosophy teaches how to be a better yogi. Especially the yoga perspective to control your thoughts and thereby actively manage your mood and energy strongly resonates with me. Being aware of your ayurvedic type and adapting accordingly can significantly improve your health and general well-being. Also knowing about anatomy gives you a deeper understanding of the influence yoga has on your body (e.g. relation between chakras and glands, the relation between asanas and muscles/ digestive system/ circulatory system/ respiratory system). Purifying the body in Shatkarma deepens the practice. Pranayama teaches you how to concentrate on your breath and thereby calm your mind. Meditation gives balance and relaxation.
Moreover, yoga can be done everywhere, whether you are in nature, at home, or traveling. Also, you do not need prerequisites in order to practice yoga, everyone is able to do it. Each yoga style has its unique benefits and everyone can practice according to their own needs and preferences. For example, Hatha yoga is the original, basic physical yoga practice. Ashtanga yoga is a physically demanding sequence of yoga postures that needs to be done in a specific order. Vinyasa yoga is a flow-based athletic yoga style. Among these, there are a lot more yoga styles (Iyengar yoga, Kundalini yoga, Bikram yoga, Yin yoga) and variations (pregnancy yoga, hormone yoga).
All in all, yoga is an empowering lifestyle that has a strong positive effect on your body and mind.
Before I went to India to discover more about me and yoga, I thought yoga is a way to strengthen and balance my body and mind. During the last days, I discovered and personally experienced that yoga is way more than this. Yoga is entire life, yoga is a way of living, an attitude, a way of thinking and behaving in accordance with your inner self-realization and in differentiation to the objective world. There are different techniques like asanas, pranayama, meditation, and shatkarma to be integrated into your daily routine to support you in living yoga. With yoga you can unleash the power and knowledge of yourself and bring it to its full potential. You can get what you really are by starting to discover yourself besides trying to become someone else. Within yoga you have a view helpful tools to reach this overarching goal: (1) control and balance of your body and senses by applying different asanas on a regular base (2) control your mind by applying meditation and pranayamas (3) cleaning your body and mind with shatkarma, pranayama, and a healthy dairy. With strengthening, balancing, and purifying of your external body you can support the corresponding processes of inner healing, strengthening, and purifying. Therewith yoga by itself is a perfect symbiosis between body and mind. It brings everything in its right quality and place and therefore contributes to our overall wellbeing.
Besides this, a core part of yoga is for me an understanding and awareness of your Chakras (so the energy that you have within your body). It is essential to understand how and if the energy in your body is floating in the right way and how to work on this with different asanas and meditations (sounds). I love that yoga is addressing so many different parts of my life or nearly all in a respective manner. So it is a perfect combination that works perfectly fine for me in connecting me to myself. With this comprehensive consideration of all parts of my life from my body to my environment, I found my personal way to be myself. Namaste!
Meditation is a practice to control and relax your mind. You learn how to stay focused and concentrate on one thing at a time without distractions. You become aware of your thoughts and learn how to put them in perspective. Thereby, you get to know yourself better and trust more in yourself and your own intuition. The aim is to reach an inner state of awareness and grow personally and spiritually. This lowers your stress level, reduces tension and anxieties. It enhances your mental strength and energy and generally improves your health.
Meditation can be practiced in different forms. There is active meditation, which takes place while the body is in movement (for example while walking, while chanting a mantra, or while dancing) and passive meditation, which is practiced sitting still in specific postures with a straight back (for example cross-legged, half-lotus or lotus). Moreover, meditation can be guided. A teacher or trained practitioner gives you guidance in the form of specific instructions that you need to follow. These can be on different topics such as becoming aware of the different parts of your body, self-love, life goals, self-confidence.
All in all, meditation is a tool to achieve better clarity and a calmer mind which improves your emotional health.
For me meditation begins with concentration. To learn meditating you first need to learn to concentrate – concentrate on something outside or inside of your body. Our philosophy teacher told us a metaphor regarding meditation that I really liked. Because the biggest challenges at least for myself during meditation are my arising thoughts. You need to consider this thought like you are driving a car. If you are driving a car and another car is driving towards you, you also do not punish this car or be angry with it just due to the fact it arises in front of you. You just continue driving, focus on driving your own car in the right way, watch and perceive the other car and then let the other car pass by. And it is the same with the thoughts while mediating: watch them, accept them and then let them pass by and focus on your own inner thought/ work. Doing this, mediation can provide you amazing inner power, strength, and focus. The word by it’s nature means healing. So this unintended flow of consciousness that arises during mediation can and actually will heal your mind. You will find the ability to reconnect to your inner self, activate the right energy, and bring your mind in balance again. Therewith it is easier to guide your desires. Therefore meditation is such a helpful tool for me to reconnect to myself, be balanced and calm.