Everyday I am learning more and more about what it means to be a yoga practitioner. I came to find yoga through my asana practice during a very difficult period in my life. At first it was just about trying to fix what hurt me physically but through that process I’ve learned to realize so much about myself, my place in the world, and how I want to live my life. I may not be able to quote the Yoga Sutras like my teachers, but during our lectures at KYM I find myself nodding and agreeing to the fundamental thinking behind the yogic philosophies and how they ring true for me. My yoga teacher training in 2006 was mostly about the asana practice and how to be a good “asana” instructor. Here at KYM, our asana practice is just 1/8 of our daily yoga studies. I’m used to a much more rigorous physical practice than the ones we do here but in many ways I think it’s been much more beneficial. I am coming to terms with accepting my capabilities and how I may practice in the future. I’m not getting any younger and there is only so many more years I can keep a hard core practice up! Spending just as much time on philosophy, chanting, pranayama, and meditation, as a yoga practice should be, has been phenomenal.
With half of the course over I am definitely seeing the students soaking in the lectures and applying them in their lives. I am happy to be a witness to this beautiful process and also take part in my own transformation. I truly believe I came here at the right time and for good reason. I know that all of this would have meant so little to me 10 years ago and I would not have appreciated everything as I do now. I have been particularly enjoying the meditative practice and look forward to the class everyday. Last week, the focus of our meditative practice was on the five elements. Yesterday we put all of them together, related them to our own bodies, and meditated on bringing about balance and harmony. Today before our meditation teacher arrived (who, by the way, wear the most stunning saris everyday and carries herself with indescribable grace), the KYM manager brought in a vase full of beautiful roses. Our focus for our meditative practice today was “pushpam,” or flowers.
Our guided meditation starts with our teacher giving us the focus for our practice that day and talking about the different qualities of our topic or object. For example, the quality we associated with flowers today was fragrance (for water it was purification, for air it was expansion, etc). We are then given mudras, breath instructions, a short mantra to repeat, and physical movements to link all of them together as we visualize- you stand up, touch your thumb to your index finger, raise your arms as you inhale and as you lower your arms you chant your mantra, and you visualize/focus. You really have to concentrate to do everything that my mind starts to calm down and begin the meditative journey. After 10-15 minutes of moving meditation, we sit down to mediate. I know that today’s focus was flowers and fragrance, but when I visualized the beautiful flowers I thought of how flowers make people smile. So I put on a small smile on my face and focused on the happiness and joy flowers bring. As I inhaled, I imagine the sweet smell of the roses traveling in the air to reach me and expanding beyond. It was so peaceful and calm that I felt as if I could stay there all evening… Eventually our teacher slowly guided us out of our meditative state and as I opened my eyes, I saw a single rose placed in front of me. I felt a great wave of gratitude and my eyes welling up. My meditative practice has grown so much since I’ve been here; I’m really looking forward to the meditation intensive I’ll be attending next month. What a wonderful inward journey!