When thinking about yoga several images probably pop into your mind about this ancient art. These images are most likely based on the way we practice and interpret yoga nowadays. Well, put your prejudice aside, and continue reading this article. We found yoga instructor Robbie prepared to talk to us and discovered some zensation in ourselves.
Mischievous as we are, we start by asking what yoga exactly is. “When you read a book about yoga, it will tell you that yoga is an ancient system about mental and physical practices which provides you with guidelines for living a meaningful life”, Robbie says. He continues by telling us that the practice of yoga arose thousands of years ago as a system of liberation. “People’s lives and the world they lived in were very different back then. Yoga was more of a mental practice, reaching a higher consciousness in the early ages.”
“Today people think that yoga is mainly a physical practice”, Robbie says. “Based on the postures they see in magazines for example, people would say: ‘I can’t do yoga because I’m not flexible.’ But the physical part is just a small aspect of traditional yoga”, he emphasizes. “The world today focuses more on people’s physical appearance, so the image of yoga is also focused on that.” He tells us that yoga is so much more than that. “If we get too attached to the physical part, there’s a risk we lose the connection with the essence of yoga.”
doors that open
And that is exactly why we students should practice yoga, for example when we experience stress during the exam period. “Yoga is great for that, it will help you work out that tension. The power of yoga is to purify, cleanse, purify, and to de-stress. If you start doing yoga, there’s always a reason why you are drawn to the practice in the first place”, he tells us. “Even if you don’t have a particular reason, there’s a question in your mind. You can always talk to a teacher and ask how you can find an answer to your question through yoga. It doesn’t matter why you practice yoga as long as you remember the essence of the teachings. Each and every personal purpose is valuable. Yoga might open other doors for you.”
“There are so many problems we might face: relationships, exams, money, etc. It’s natural that these challenges come our way and we should learn how to cope with them”, says Robbie. “When practicing yoga for a while, a profound inner transformation begins to take place. You are being reminded over and over again that you shouldn’t take your life so seriously. Instead of reacting straight away, you just take a bit of time and you realize that you have choices. We learn to accept that there are a lot of things that are beyond our control. There are quite a few things we can alter and change such as the way we breathe, move, hold our body in space and the people we surround ourselves with. Many people don’t realize that.”
more and more tools
As mentioned before, there is also a physical aspect to yoga. “We tend to sit a lot and the way we sit is not really great for our spine, shoulders and neck”, says the yoga instructor. “Yoga helps us change these and other habits, the way you breathe, the way you talk, basically the way you do everything in life. It’s definitely not only about what you do on the mat.” According to Robbie you’ll get more and more tools if you are dedicated to the practice.
Robbie tries to incorporate this yoga mindset into his classes. At the studio where he works, these essential teachings play a big role as well. “We still like to remind people why we do the practice and provide them with the essential teachings of yoga, we have that responsibility. We wanted to keep those ancient practices and incorporate them in a contemporary setting.” And so the yoga mindset can be found within the yoga studio. “Everyone is welcome, regardless of your occupation, your age, your interest, sexual orientation, political view, as long as you accept diversity.”