In class we are working more towards defining the different sides of Yoga. Asana is the sanskrit word for poses and postures. Pranayama is the breath. These two pillars of yoga form the modern yoga we see in most studios. Technically there are 8 pillars. The others are Yama or ethical discipline, Niyama or individual discipline, Pratyahara or withdrawl of the senses, Dharana or concentration, Dhyana or meditation, and Samadhi or enlightenment. In the path of Yoga you start with Yama and build your practice upon each pillar sequentially with Asana and Pranayama coming after Niyama. As you build upon each pillar, the others strengthen as a result.
In my case I learned and practiced the social and individual ethics and morals already. I had kind of reached a plateau and tabled my spiritual practice. When I started doing yoga I didn’t feel more spiritual per say, but it helped me work on related disciplines like self awareness and focus. Most of all it helped me let go of my inner critic. I mean she still pops up ever now and then. I can’t help it, but the voice is quieter and less frequent. Letting go of self criticisms helped me stay true to myself. If you don’t judge yourself then you also worry less about what others think of you. As a result you can really learn about yourself and figure out what you need.
That’s what I really love about yoga. Each person is urged to focus on their own path. There isn’t a collective group moving together but instead individuals who share the same ideals but walk their own paths. There is no judgement but mostly understanding and respect because everyone is unique.
For me, being able to let go of judgement has been the best thing that has ever happened to me. Growing up in a world full of comparing, judging and high expectations was wildly stressful and unhappy. Today I hardly think about it because I just let it go. It was what it was, but today is today. My past does not weigh me down and I walk forward each day.
With this personal movement I think I’ll naturally move onto the next pillars (concentration and meditation). Not really because I want to reach enlightenment but because I want to find focus and peacefulness without having to perform the physical practice of yoga. Yoga is very much a positive escape or mini vacation from the pressures of the world. If I can do it in my own room I will be happier.
Do I believe in enlightenment? I don’t know. To me it sounds too idealistic. I don’t want to be so drawn within myself that I am shutting out the rest of the world. There is too much going on for me to want to become secluded. I think that is almost selfish. It would be such a waste if I decided to become a monk or yogi and only work on my path to enlightenment 24/7.
Besides I don’t think I will ever reach a point where I am so perfect or free of fault. I will always make mistakes, and I will always be connected to my emotions. I am only human.