In the winter of 2010 I did a retreat with David Swenson, a direct student of Mr Pattabhi Joice.
One of his expressions that stuck with me was: “Yoga just makes life easier”.
An expression that made me think, as yoga requires a certain discipline and I did not assume that it is something that makes your life easier.
Arriving at the point of freedom versus discipline.
When is a human being free? What does it mean to be free? Free of addictions, in any form? Free of conditioning? Free of everything standing in your way to develop your full potential?
I like to believe that we, ourselves, are fully responsible for our lives. This responsibility demands inner-freedom.
While Life teaches us that inner-freedom can not exist without discipline.
Maybe freedom is having the possibilities to develop oneself, to being able to live exactly the way you want. And I don’t mean giving satisfaction to all our desires but being able to look for satisfaction on a soul or spiritual level.
What influences and defines this free will? Intelligence and curiosity, conditioning, experiences, culture of origin, past lives (if you want) and a connection with our own intuition about our path in life.
We can work on ourselves and develop skills, but this asks for a certain discipline. Thanks to this discipline we can create healthy habits and patterns . Whereby we can start to consciously create instead of unconsciously react.
Yoga can help with this by observing ones inner-reactions and behaviour to all the different postures and happenings on the mat.
It can serve as a guide to help us prevent from falling back in old habits and patterns that don’t serve us anymore. Observe one-self as much as possible without judgement and away from ego, meaning no approval or disapproval of one’s thoughts or behavior.
This way we get to know ourselves, in a loving way, and we can wisely work with ourselves.
A great mantra during these observations is: I am loving awareness.
This can be internally said to one-self all day…..
So where does yoga come in? If you regularly put yourself into positions that are challenging to hold, that require strength and energy, you develop the ability to focus on the reaction it gives in your body and your mind.
You replace the attention the yoga pose is asking from you with the capacity to observe. Your prime reaction is not focused on your physical effort. If you would do that … it would not be possible to arrive in that challenging posture anyway. In other words: you learn to detach from your thinking mind and make connection with your body in the same moment.
Balance postures teach us to put perspective on things, to not take ourselves so seriously, teachings of humbleness. Power postures give us inspiration, teach us to keep on smiling, no matter what. Deep stretching postures teach us the ability to let go of everything. Backbends open our hearts.
And so every posture has an effect on our being, the way we are in life and in this world.
Yoga helps us to be present, to connect with the moment, whether good or bad… instead of running from the moment through all the creative ways our mind has devised.
Because during the practice, there are so many different things to focus on, that it’s easier to see the tricks of your mind, playing out.
Yoga helps to not resist reality and to be able to accept everything in life as it is.
Making life easier because it helps us connecting to spirit.
We can observe our life-drama’s playing out without being so caught up in it.
The list is endless because yoga means Union.
Union in the biggest sense of the word. The more I connect with spirit during practice or in daily life, the more often i’m reminded of David Swenson and his words: “Yoga just makes life easier”.