Today I read something, that although I have read many times before, struck me differently. “Yoga changed my life”. It made me think… Nothing external from us can be the cause of our suffering or of our happiness, so how can something external change us or our lives? It is not Yoga that changes our lives, it is us alone that do that. I think we must stop blaming or putting the merit on anything that is not us. It all comes back to our own choices; cause and consequence, the eternal law of Karma. What Yoga does (and any other thing, other paths of self-study) is connect us to our selves; to our little minds (egos) and to the great infinite mind. It opens up the door to knowing, studying, and accepting ourselves. It’s not Yoga that changes us, it’s Yoga that makes us look at ourselves without judgement and without preconceptions. It’s Yoga that teaches us the deep surrender to what is. But ultimately it is us, and only us that can change, and that can change our lives… Yoga is the journey of the self to the self, but it is the self that chooses.
Being able or not to do a handstand, is not the purpose of Yoga. Being able to get or not into any pose, isn’t the purpose either. In reality there is no other purpose in Yoga than the experiential study of oneself, forever. Nothing else. ••• Personally, I love to get upside down because this practice is the only constant thing in my life for as long as I can remember. When I change my gaze and balance in my hands, I have to be fully present, riding the breath, being in the moment. And that reminder keeps with me always, making it easier for me to meditate later. I personally use asanas as a warm up for my sitting meditation. They teach me stillness and ease in the most awkward positions. Then, slowly, I try to be in stillness in the most chaotic situations of life. But it’s all a constant practice. If you think there is a goal and that you will reach it, Yoga is not for you. You must be prepared to have a beginner’s mind forever, and ever, and ever…. Yoga, like life, is all about ‘being’ in the midst of change.
Backbends or Heart Openers have never been a favourite of mine… Even now, after 10 years, I still need to get into one very, very slowly, and after a long warm up and practice. This makes me think a lot about how I confront the world. For me, it has always been easy to follow my own heart; I have always made decisions based on what it tells me leaving my mind totally out of it… And that has sometimes got me into trouble. Many times, really. Learning to balance both is the key. But even though I follow my heart, I don’t always give my heart to others fully, or show my vulnerability completely. My personal relationship to my heart is well and healthy, but not the relationship of my heart with others. I always try to appear stronger than I truly am. I don’t know why. Maybe because I am afraid, maybe because I am tired of making mistakes, maybe because every time I trusted too much I got hurt… maybe, maybe, maybe…. Whatever it is, I am working on it. And working on my backbends too…
When I move and breathe in my mat during my practice, I let my breath guide every single movement. After many years I discovered that forcing the body without minding the breath, doesn’t really serve any purpose at all. For what? To be able to do a posture? But letting the breath be our guide teaches many lessons. It teaches that the body is capable of so much more when we let it speak its own language, when we let it open the spaces that need to be available, and close those that aren’t needed. It teaches us that no matter how hard a posture is, the breath is like water, fluid but steady, and can conquer and destroy the greatest obstacles in its path. Yoga has taught me so much during my life, but the greatest lesson for me is to let things flow at their own rhythm. In my physical practice, and in my life, forcing situations to be what they aren’t ready to be has always ended in some kind of injury; but letting things be as they are, each and every moment be itself, each inhalation and each exhalation become life and death of each breath, has opened up the doors to a freedom that cannot be described, only felt.
It’s been a really difficult week. A really stressful one. I tend to stress easily when it comes to work, but I have learnt over the years how to use my stress in my favour. I get things done correctly and efficiently, and I like things that are efficient. I am tired of people telling me not to stress, not to have fear, not to do this, not to feel that… I know they probably say those things to try and help me, but they are not “me”. I am not “me” either in those moments. ••• You see, it might seem strange but since a long time ago I live with two of my selves. The self that is thrown out into the world, that is the mask I put on to do what has to get done, that complains, and stresses out, that gets angry, sad, and lets herself fall victim of her own mind games. And then there is “me”, the real me, the “I” behind, the observer, the part that is a whole with everything that exists. ••• In the beginning of my meditation journey, I thought my purpose was to destroy the false “me”, the ego, so that the real “me” could just be. With years of practice I came to realise that it wasn’t working to try to hide or kill that part, because I need it in this world. Everything is here for a reason. What has worked truly is to observe and let myself be whomever I wish or need to be in each moment without losing connection to my center, to the whole, to the sacred, to the divine, to god, to… call it whatever you want. As long as “I” am observing, “I” can do whatever I want. I am free to change my mind. I am free to be human. I am free to flow with emotions. I am free to fall into the sacredness of the ordinary. Just being. Just breathing. •••