Developing COURAGE through yoga practice

When I am asked what kind of yoga I do or what yoga really is I usually start with saying what it is not. This is not because I am a negative person, but just to clarify what expectations people don't have to bring with them when they want to join in a yoga retreat with me, participate in Yoga classes with me (private or group classes) or to understand yoga in general.  

It took me some courage to write this here because I am usually only wanting to write beautiful positive things; and yet I have to say that I am very fed up with the way that yoga is being portrayed and sold here in the West and I am consciously distancing myself from that “yoga culture”

Yes, I am form “the West” myself, and I am sick of hearing about yet another “favourite yoga pose, a way to rebuild my body for summer (or winter, or for a lover etc), or a way to juice-cleanse my body for cleansing yoga practices, a yoga practice to strengthen the spine, tighten the buttock and get great abs and fantastic core strength how to redesign my brain, or even how to practice a session of mindfulness” - yes all this and more just makes me feel sick and frustrated.

And no, I am not a purist, but a person who likes to live as honest, natural and simple as possible. So the Yoga I am teaching, I mean that I am sharing is not “my Yoga”, although I now called it “Aishani Yoga”. I learned yoga from a great master who comes from an authentic “yoga lineage” which means that yoga was passed down from master to a special disciple who then had the responsibility to be the next master. Yes, we are practising yoga postures (asanas) and pranayama (breathing practices) and meditation, yet this has never been the goal to perfect the asanas, pranayama or meditation, but all the practices are means to self-realisation. Maybe this sounds a bit airy-fairy for some peopler too “new age”, but it just means it works more than on the surface of the physical body, So here is how Swami Niranjananda Saraswati from the Bihar School of Yoga and Yoga University in Munger, Bihar India.says it: “Yoga is a science of Life not a science of body”

Sure, yoga practices will make you feel better in body and mind, yet an advanced practice does not mean to stand on your head longer or do “postures” - asanas- that are more difficult to perform or to sit longer in silent meditation, as “advanced” has nothing to do with external appearances but with knowing, realising and expressing your best, your true inner nature. And yes, we do practice yoga asanas, because our physical vehicle is the body and we practice pranayama and mediation as otherwise the emotions and our mind control us, yet real Yoga has nothing to do with this outer “performances” or any performances.

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How do I look? How impressive is this posture?

What do I want to achieve next?

- I am not saying this is not impressive, but it is not the goal of yoga - (Shaktiprem)

As Swami Niranjananda Saraswati said: “When you go to school, you study and pass your exams, your lifestyle changes. As you grow up your thoughts, intellect and viewpoint change. This is called maturity. You say that the person has become an adult. It is the same with Yoga. When you perform your actions with patience and endurance, and your behaviour reflects these qualities, then that is one part of yoga (karma yoga). Similarly, when you use your common sense and are practical in life, meaning applying your knowledge then you become a jnana yogi. And when you act in the world without getting carried away by your emotions, then you are called a bhakti yogi. And that is the way yoga has to be experienced in life.”

And for me courage comes in when I just am who I am no matter what. I accept myself howI am and how I am not. I accept my past and where I am now in life. I accept my body the way it is with the things it can do and with the limitations and fears and insecurities that are in me. Though I will go on sharing some yoga practices with you here on my blog and in my newsletters, now I also shared once more with you that the practice never is meant to be the goal - and still I invite you to enjoy it with a smile on your face that helps you to accept the way you are connecting with the practice which again helps to relax into it and trust what comes.

Mainly I would like to invite you to really be yourself and enjoy being yourself - knowing that if you have been in my yoga classes or retreats, you will have experienced that I don’t expect anyone to “do” anything but allow yourself to accept yourself fully, so that you can say to yourself:

I eat, move, relate to others and live my life in such a way that says: “I trust myself, I care about myself and others, I accept myself and others.”