“If we practice yoga long enough, the practice changes to suit our needs. It’s important to acknowledge that the practice isn’t meant to be one practice for everybody. The beautiful thing about yoga is that there are so many different approaches. As we go through our life cycles, hopefully we are able to find a practice that suits us. And if you practice yoga long enough, that will change many times. What exactly that looks like is going to be different for each person.”— Tiffany Cruikshank
Firstly this blog is my opinion and not based on fact. I can only share from my experience and that of my clients so you may need to take it with a pinch of salt.
I do cringe when I see the social media posts of Bendy Wendy’s in obscure yoga poses suggesting to us that yoga is the way to enlightenment, telling us it will bring us everlasting bliss and cure all our problems. All we need to do is bend over backwards and kiss our own sit bones
I’m not saying it isn’t the path to happiness, freedom, calm, peace, fulfilment and full-blown enlightenment, there is something to it. I’m sure if packed my bags, disowned my family, friends and went to live in an ashram or a monastery for the rest of my days I would have a different story.
In an ashram I would be fully supported, clothed, fed and watered daily so I can work towards enlightenment through yoga, meditation and the ethical practices that need to be integrated. That’s also something that I wasn’t told when I started yoga. I wanted permanent peace NOW, I didn’t realise it’s a system that I have to work and not just a 60-minute class once a week. Jez if it were only that simple!
Although I have often thought about running away to become a nun, normally in the midst of some sort of teenage self-induced crisis, I can’t, I won’t and I don’t want to.
I have 1 husband, 3 teenage boys, 3 dogs, bills, my yoga community, the accumulation of Karma and washing skiddy under-crackers to be dealing with on a daily basis.I like being human.
I want to leave this world battered and bruised knowing that my life was the best roller coaster ride in the ever.
Sadly yoga and meditation haven’t brought me everlasting bliss YET, a girls gotta hope hasn’t she?!
So then, why would I bother? Why have I dedicated my life to the practice and why do I share it with you?
I experience moments of bliss where even amidst the chaos, the mind and emotions take a chill pill and everything just is. In those moments I’m connected to my nature, my senses are alive, my heart opens, everything is just flowing beautifully, l am at peace.
Those moments are fleeting like everything in life. I’m not happy all the time, sometimes I am cow-bag number one. Although I know that the bliss, peace, calm or whatever doesn’t go away and enlightenment is something that is in me and doesn’t need to be found by escaping and becoming a monk/nun, the clouds of delusion still cover it up.
On the mat, I learn that I can stay with whatever is coming up. I stay with challenging postures and do as my mentor tells me. They gently remind me to stay with myself in a way that is kind and compassionate and breathe deep because everything passes eventually. This gives me great strength that I can apply to my everyday life.
My mind and emotions might want to me to flick my mentor the bird, push her off the mat before sparking up a fag and blowing it in her face but, I don’t need to react to it.
In life, I might want to dangle the kids out of the window by one leg, while setting fire to their clothes at the same time because they keep putting clean clothes back in the wash purely because they can’t be arsed to hang them up but, I don’t need to react to it (most of the time). Why because I can do it on the mat. It took me years to marry the two together.
I know that when I don’t practice things start to go downhill.
I’m sorry tiny Bendy Wendy lady, in your impressive yoga poses, yoga and meditation have not created a life filled with’ permanent everlasting bliss. Kindly take your social media account and stick it in-between the sit-bones, where the sun doesn’t shine.
After 25 years of spiritual practice, reading, researching I have reached a conclusion.
Actually, I think I need to add in that spiritual practice to me isn’t religious. I practice mindfulness and compassion. The two wings of a free bird.
I share it with you because I am awakening and this stuff is working for me.
Under the thoughts, emotions, social expectations, constant advertising, the way you have been conditioned during your upbringing and hormones (we can’t forget them) is perfect bliss, there is pure love.
I do what I do because I have tasted awakening, every day I peel away layers of delusions the mind holds and man it tastes so goooooooooood!
I use the word ‘awakening’, not awake or enlightenment because I choose every day to embrace my humanness, my relationships, I am choosing to play the game of life while peeling away the layers at the same time and my practice is a tool for this. I want to get my hands dirty.
It feels better this way as it takes the pressure off. Have you ever tried so hard to be perfect? I have and it never ends very well. How did you feel when you failed? I’m guessing you have failed and not perfect and blissful because if you were you certainly wouldn’t be reading this – Would you?
Anyway, perfect people are boring, would you really want a perfect person as a mate? I feel inadequate enough without perfect friends. Those kind of people are probably on a beach somewhere, getting innocent members of the public to take pictures of them doing crazy yoga poses in their bikinis so they can post them on Instagram and Facebook to let us know how enlightened and blissful they are. Do you think?
I also share the practice because it offers you space, to get fitter, healthier, stronger and it gives you a sense of calm that can’t be achieved by not doing yoga and meditation. It’s that simple and that alone can be more than enough.
It’s perfectly fine to practice for all the above reasons but yoga and meditation go deeper than that (if you want it to). What many of us don’t do is reflect on why it goes deeper.
Yoga and meditation are tools. Perhaps this isn’t a spoiler alert but life ain’t always a breeze. You get lost, little things begin to stack up it can happen so slowly that you don’t even notice things are getting on top of you. Like lobsters in the boiling pot.
Before you know it, you are stressed, tired, not sleeping and everything just feels like it’s too much. Or is that just me?
With a regular yoga and meditation practice, you will begin to see the red flags sooner and catch yourself before it goes too far. You can then use the practice to nurture yourself back to health. It’s a way to be mindful, present and awake.
Yoga and Meditation mirror life.
They show us who we are and how we handle things. Not just when the practice is amazing but when it gets challenging.
In a hot fast, flow or long hard hold do you give up because the mind tells you to? Do you stay and grit your teeth? or do you ease off slightly, relax into body, breathe deeper and watch the thoughts and emotions?
In meditation or yin do you sit still even when the mind is really busy, the emotions are raging and body is fidgety? Do you give up or keep bringing yourself back to the practice with compassion?
Some people only do hardcore practices and always push themselves to the max because they do the same with everything in life. They know they would benefit from something gentler but that wouldn’t be enough would it?
Some people only do gentle practices and avoid challenges like a bad smell? This is often mirrored in life. These people want to get fitter, healthier, they have dreams too but avoid the challenge because they don’t believe in themselves.
It’s all about balance….
Look at the process the mind goes through to actually get on the mat in the first place. You have good intentions to practice and then procrastination and excuse start to arise in the mind. The kids, cat, washing, cooking, cleaning, social media, work suddenly become more important than your needs even though nothing has changed from the time you had those good intentions.
Do you think I don’t get the same thoughts? I do…..
If you keep showing up regardless of what the mind is saying then you will begin to see that you are not your thoughts and instead of beating yourself for not being perfect you will begin to embrace your humanness.
If you keep showing up and reflecting on how the practice is a holding up a mirror to your life you will begin to peel away the layers of delusion present in the mind.
Of course, this must all be done in a kind and compassionate way or you will just use the practice as another shitty stick to beat yourself up with.
Most of all the practices will give you space to sort your own life out.
I spent 10 years as a holistic therapist and it saddened me to see so many people who were suffering. Instead of looking in the mirror and doing the work, using me as a tool for support, they would look to me to fix them. That ain’t in my job description baby. If it was I would be running around with my magic wand zapping everything that moved.
We really do have to do the fixing ourselves. In fact, I would argue that we are never broken, just out of balance but that’s another blog. We need to do the work, we need tools in our life that help us to cope.
I would like to add it might not be yoga and meditation that help, it’s not the answer to everything and it certainly isn’t for everyone. My son has recently had a rocky journey and he is finding strength mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually in the gym and it’s working for him.
Take some time to find your thing, it will be well worth it. Reflection is your super power!
If you’re reading this, and bells are ringing come and give it a go. You don’t know unless you try. There’s no pressure. One of our community members practising in her undercrackers this week. That’s the joy of home yoga, with our community, no one judges, we are doing our own work. You can turn your video off and go full nude if you really want to.
Right I better get off, I have to get ready for Sunday lunch at the in-laws
Don’t forget to write me a little comment below with any aha moments and your inspirational wisdom? I love learning from you.
Have a good’en,