Before yoga I was heavily involved in sport up to a National level. Rugby League gave me a few broken bits and pieces. Acrobatics strained a few ligaments and muscles. Swimming and lifesaving from an early age meant that I was muscled before puberty and this left me with hunched shoulders and a body that I was not sure how to carry. (Of course I didn’t realise this at the time). At the age of 23 a friend took me to an Iyengar Yoga class. I spent 2 hours working hard enough to build up a sweat, it was challenging yet relaxing and when the session finished I felt refreshed, like I was walking on clouds. The following day when I went back to my usual “swim, gym” routine, I was astounded! I had been training for sport from the age of 7, sometimes 5 hours a day, and no one had told me that I was pushing shit up a hill. My swimming was entirely different. I felt high in the water, I was pushing through my stroke using a completely different body position. I feel light and fast. When it came to my gym workout something had clicked in my mind. I positioned my feet differently while lifting dead weights and my core was activated. The strain of lifting was almost relieved. Something had been awoken in my body.
I am 40 now and since those first day of experiencing yoga I have been in and out of gyms, I swim only when its summer but its yoga that I feel keeps me mentally and physically at ease. You know the feeling when you have been away from your familiar surroundings and you get home and plonk yourself on the couch? That is how I feel about yoga. It is like coming home.
Yoga is the lay persons neuroscience - Yogis have known for centuries that there are layers of mental activity that can be harnessed and directed. When attention becomes concentration and concentration establishes a pause between the rise and fall of thoughts, we arrive into a state known as meditation. The interconnections between the layers of consciousness create the conditions for wisdom.. it arises in the pause, in the interruption of habitual thought.
“As soon as there is stopping, there is happiness. There is peace. When we stop like that, it looks as if nothing is happening, but in fact everything is happening. You are deeply established in the present moment, and you touch your cosmic body. You touch eternity. There is no more restlessness, no more seeking.” Thich Nhat Hanh
As we hone our skills of discernment and tap into deep forces that pertain to balance, stability, heaviness, lightness, we are actually meeting fear and desire. We feel the tap of ignorance on our shoulder. Our perception of experience and the experience itself are not the same things. We know this in the very cells of our being… it is no longer a construct of understanding. It is an experiential truth. We can confidently and calmly accept that our mental faculty (memory and emotions) are bias. That our mental view is a construction that functions to keep our ego intact.