So much of the yoga I see in class settings is the Ashtanga style of Hatha yoga. I am reminded this morning of things I learned in my basic and advanced yoga training with Joseph LePage at Integrative Yoga Therapy. First of all, Hatha yoga came much later than the eight limbs of yoga that were developed to bring deep peace and enlightenment. I was trained in the classic sense that Hatha or the practice of asana/posture had a very specific purpose. That purpose is to prepare the body and mind to enter into the stillness of meditation. In meditation I come to understand my oneness with the Divine, with All That Is, and, from this awareness, I desire and am able to live the deeper truths of compassion, non-violence, peace, and true joy.
Yes, the practice of asana brings balance, strength and flexibility to the body. Yes, it calms the mind (if the student is fully present and in the moment). Yes, it keeps most of us sane! Still it is not the goal and, from what I am seeing, students are often not given the time and the guidance to move from their practice into meditation/stillness.
The most powerful practice is to develop the art of stillness, entering the silence and learning to be fully in each moment. Stillness allows for experiencing thought as it comes and goes, emotion as it rises and falls, body as it accepts or resists; it is the garden within where the Divine awaits the awareness and presence of the practitioner. Stillness is rich with the experience of the moment rather than empty. It is the opportunity to immerse in the Divine Presence, to float on the wave of True Peace, Oneness, and Joy.
We are gifted with so many amazing sources of information, so many ways to learn and practice are at our fingertips. I invite you to explore and find what will work for you. If you are at all like me, eclectic and needing variety, you can pick and choose from several types of meditation practices. If consistency is best for you, then find the one you resonate most highly with and begin there.
You do not have to be good at it or do it perfectly! You must, however, begin and do the best you can. How else will you ever gain the benefit, the blessing, the peace, the enlightened life you seek?
Love. Compassion. Peace. Blessings from me to you.