Go ahead and Google the word ‘yoga’ and you’ll be bombarded with images of lean limbs implausibly wrapped around toned bodies.
Pinkie finger stands!
This extreme form of exercise is, surely, reserved for bendy Wendys and monks from the East!
In fact, you might be surprised to learn that the physical aspect of yoga makes up just a smidgen of what it takes to be a yogi.
T.K.V. Desikachar, son of Krishnamacharya, the pioneer of modern yoga, affirms:
“Anybody can breathe. Therefore, anybody can practise yoga”
Through all my studying and personal practice, I’ve come to the conclusion that the journey to become a yogi can be broken down into three easy(ish) steps!
So, if you don’t have to balance on your hands with your foot behind your head, what do you have to do?
Step 1: Unite with yourself!
Yoga means ‘union’.
And this is where we start our journey.
The very first thing we do in a formal yoga practice is take a moment of quiet to observe our body and breath.
Noticing sensations in the body.
Feeling the breath in the belly.
Shaping our inhales and exhales.
When we focus on these physical elements, the mind becomes quiet.
No thoughts, no lists, no worries!
In yogi terms, we are connecting three of the five koshas or energetic layers that make up every human being which, for our purpose, we will call the body, the breath and the mind.
The more we practise uniting these three koshas on our yoga mats, the more we’ll find we can do the same in our everyday lives resulting in a quieter mind in everything we do.
Now that you have united your body, breath and mind you are ready to move to Step 2!
Step 2: Connect with them too
How many times have you asked someone to repeat what they’ve just said?
I’ve been so guilty of this over the years!
I would miss half of what the other person was saying because there was something else on my mind.
Sometimes, it’s nothing more important than what to cook for dinner!
When our minds are busy thinking, we are unable to fully connect with those around us.
Family, friends, colleagues.
Do they ever get our full, undivided attention?
Even when we are listening properly, we are usually thinking about what we are going to say next!
By calming the mind through our yoga practice (see Step 1!), we have more mental space to fully connect with others.
We can simply listen without thinking.
Sounds easy, doesn’t it?
Once you have mastered this Step, you are in touch with the fourth kosha which is all about awareness.
If you’ve got this far, congratulations!
You are almost a Yogi!
Step 3: Become a yogi!
Okay, I have to admit that this is a biggie!
The final step involves nothing more than connecting with all of the energy in the entire cosmos!
Now, maybe you understand the need for the ‘ish’ after the word ‘easy’!
But bear with me because you’ve probably already experienced this last step without even knowing it.
Have you ever looked at the sunset, a rainbow or the moonlit sky and breathed a sigh completely full of peace?
Well, that’s it, my friend!
You are connected to the universe!
You are a divine, spiritual being!
Woah! Divine, what??? Yikes!
Don’t worry – I understand using words like ‘spiritual’ can sound a bit woo woo to some people. Believe it or not, I’m actually one of those people!
Call it whatever you like or nothing at all. What we’re focussing on is the experience and how you felt in that moment.
Knowing that we are made of the very same energy as all of nature – in this world and beyond, connects us to every living thing in every time and space.
We are part of the Universal Energy.
Don’t do yoga; be yoga
Hopefully, by now you will have realised that being a yogi really is more than throwing shapes on a yoga mat.
In this overly simplified guide, I’ve barely scraped the surface of the science and philosophy of yoga. It would take at least one lifetime to study everything the practice has to offer!
And remember, it is just that – a practice.
I believe practising these three easy-ish steps is a solid starting point on your journey to feeling content and connected.
So, in this world that rewards us for being busy bees, remember to slow down enough to feel the body and breath, to connect with the people around us and to recognise the Universal Energy that resides in us all.
You got this, yogis!
I would love for you to connect with me in the comments below!
PS Get in touch if you have a great idea for a blog post!