I am passionate about yoga! Iyengar Yoga to be specific, a form of hatha yoga.
I am passionate about it because everything in me, in my body says, “yes!” to the forms yoga employs. I love the stretching and the challenge, and then the delight in the things my body can do—I am amazed at the wonderous way it is made and the glorious tingling feeling of aliveness that vibrates in every cell after a class. My body actually gives thanks for this ancient spiritual discipline, for the intelligent use of all its muscles and bones.
I have tried other forms of exercise like running, working out with machines, and walking, and nothing has the same resonance of life-giving glorying in the marvellous human form.
I understand that I am raising consciousness in the spiritual work that I do, my own first, and that this work employs the heart, the mind and the body. I can do mindfulness and meditation to gain access and still my mind. I can do emotional work—psychoanalysis or shadow work—to feel, define, and gain experience with my emotions. But yoga is the process of bringing consciousness to the very cells of my body, the minute makeup of light-resonating substance that I am composed of.
…the teaching is transmitted using active and quiet postures as vehicles for individual search. Through repetition and guidance in varied postures, practice gradually provides the practitioner with tools to understand and shape mind and character and to rewire connections in our nervous system. Yoga teaches us to separate the strands of the mind until habit and self imposed limitations give way to intelligence, wisdom, and peace.
– Mary Dunn, Senior Iyengar Yoga Teacher
The opportunity I have to notice my posture habits or the limitations that I believe I have—due to size, or shape or strength—is hugely freeing and reassuring. I have learnt that full awareness of my marvellous body serves my expression and the honing of my capacities only enhances the fuller revelation of myself.
Did you know that fat has no consciousness? You cannot ask your fat cells to tighten or relax, you cannot bring your awareness into your fat cells, as you can to every muscle required for a specific movement. The extra covering on your body simply numbs and restricts the movements you can take.
The movement of our individual consciousness is no less restricted by the extra padding we carry around through wounding, or addiction or cultural upbringing, and the ways we cope and defend ourselves every day. The requirement to face our particular makeup and rewire our connections, to change our habit patterns and get real about our capabilities, all this is required to be a more alert and transformed (or transforming) human being.
Many people think that yoga is just stretching. But while stretching is certainly involved, yoga is really about creating balance in the body through developing both strength and flexibility.
Like yoga, spiritual work requires both strength and flexibility and is only done through accessing our own core substance. Heart, mind and body—all are required to participate!
RUTH BUCKINGHAM is a teacher of Primal Spirituality and travels internationally offering courses on spiritual awakening and transformation. Her practical approach encourages people to discover the truth of themselves.