A lot of people have a particular idea of what yoga is, whether it’s borne of modern yoga fashion with stretchy pants and young bendy people, or the esoteric yoga of ancient India with its renunciates, long hours in meditation and ultimate goal of liberation from the world. Now, regardless of which of these you might think about when the word ‘yoga’ comes up in conversation, yoga is much bigger and broader than that.
At The Be Happy Yoga Project, we mostly concern ourselves with the physical practice of classical Hatha Yoga. We do this because that is what we’ve been trained to teach, and because, for most of the people around us, it is the most relevant practice to serve as a jumping in point for yogic self-exploration.
In the West, a great number of people are either disconnected from their bodies, walking around as floating heads, or connected to an idea of their bodies as strictly mechanical systems. Our Western fitness regimes reflect this segregated way of looking at physical systems. We have our ‘leg days’ and our ‘arm days’ and flexibility training, and endurance training. We look at each physical system almost as an independent whole. Yoga asks us to begin to look at our physical bodies as interconnected systems, as interdependent entities which can neither be separated from each other nor from our emotions and thoughts. The physical practice of yoga asana (yogic postures), done with awareness in the present moment, has the potential to increase proprioception, and to increase one’s awareness of the relationship between thoughts, breath, and the habitual patterns of muscular tension which we’ve been practicing and maintaining throughout our lives.
Now, as yoga teachers, we hear the same reasons over and over again from people who are trying to explain why they cannot do yoga. As our mission is to make yoga accessible to people who aren’t part of the general demographic, one of the most common remarks we hear is, “I’m not flexible enough to do yoga.” Now, as a yoga teacher, hearing this comment is more than a bit confusing. Imagine a child saying to their primary school teacher, “I’m too ignorant for school.” Yoga is not something that flexible people do, but something that increases the flexibility of those who do it. In that sense, the less flexible you are, or the less strong you are, or the less present and calm you are, the greater the potential for yoga to be a transformative practice in your life. In our experience as teachers, the beginners tend to get the most dramatic experience of life improvement from the practice.
So, if you put aside the idea that yoga is not for you, and recognise that, unless you’ve done it, you don’t really know what it is, what is stopping you from trying it? Regardless of what your personal barriers are, if and when you are open to letting them go, get in touch with us and see if we can help you transition into a happier life.