I have been practicing yoga for 42 years and am still amazed by the moves I can get my body into – or not! Throughout the journey of learning and experimenting I have come to realise that the more advanced yoga is how little I need to do for the benefit it can bring.
I often tell my students, ‘Do less – it’s more advanced’ but I’m not sure they believe me. Let’s be honest, why would they. The media is full of ‘extreme yoga’ – shapes to put the body into, asanas to impress. Yoga isn’t about that. For me it’s self-enquiry, introspective inspection, intentional movement and the binding of the movement with the breath – the very stuff of life.
One of my favourite quotes from Housman, ‘The stuff of life to knit me blew hither, here I am’ One clever dude! He was right. We are a product of our environment, experiences, influences and activities. They make us what we are. Let’s recognise it and take pleasure from the knowledge. The self-enquiry from this gives us the insight to enjoy or make changes to the here and now – whether on the mat or observing ourselves as we go about our daily business.
David Beckham sings the praises of Shona virtue, superstar yoga teacher and his personal trainer. I agree with her view that the high intensity training and sweaty gym sessions do more to stress the body than improve the well-being of the mind or body – both are inextricably linked. One really won’t improve without the other. We need to increase our dopamine and serotonin levels and decrease our cortisol levels. In our speak – feel better and less stressed. The best yoga teachers allow you to find the right moves to help you to balance these neurotransmitters and hormones in your own body rather than impress you with the shapes they can get themselves into. I’m not sure that’s even yoga at all!
For me, yoga is a lifestyle. We are deluding ourselves if we think that an hour a week at the local class will transform our body and our lives, however it’s a start and if we treat our bodies with the respect they deserve by eating well and living well, we can at least contribute to the well-being we would like to achieve.
It takes me back to my eternal message of ‘let’s enjoy the journey’ – forget the goals and the end game and take each moment for what it give us and enjoy that ordinary splendour. It’s what it’s all about.