In the wash of Lululemon colours and flat abs, it can be easy to lose the plot of why we go to a yoga class. As an externally driven society, it is easy for us to allow our senses to carry our practice over to someone else’s mat and forget to place our focus within. Yet the very practice of Hatha Yoga is geared to create balance while drawing our awareness within. To stay within our practice is to remain rooted in our being, not captivated by someone or something else.
The ancient text called the Hatha Yoga Pradipika speaks of sukha-sthira, a balanced state that is neither relaxed nor alert, but a union of the two. Artists, dancers, athletes and business people have expressed finding that balanced flow when they experience peak performances. In that flow, the individual has tapped into a much greater whole. There is no defensive holding on to the ego. One has surrendered to ride within a force that is much greater than the limited sense of self. But that fuller sense of self can only be touched when we are willing to go within, become aware of the areas that keep us stuck and gently let them go.
A Hatha yoga practice teaches us how to move within with grace and skill. By understanding our habit to be externally driven, the non-competitive Hatha yoga environment asks us to befriend ourselves. Our laboratory becomes our body, and the agent of transformation our surrendered awareness. As we let go of wanting to be other than we are, we meet who we are. When we meet who we are, we have the possibility to change.
Too many of us see ourselves only on the surface and judge what we see. Then we push and pull at our psyche trying to manipulate our reality to become the way we want it to be. We do the same to all of life, our bodies, our friends, our family, our environment. But trying to become like or change the outside will not bring lasting happiness because we have not gone to the root of the issue: our disconnected sense of wanting to be other than where we are.
Love for others cannot truly happen until we love ourselves. When we fight our self with judgement, physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual tension arise. We must go deeper. By taking the time to slow down, watch the breath, feel the body move, our mind is drawn inward and away from the outside world. We soon meet areas of our selves that need attention, healing, love, care. Focusing on our breath, we send energy to those places. Our body becomes our home while we evolve on this planet. It is not anyone else’s home, just as you do not live in anyone else’s body. So be in your body, just the way you were meant to be.
Next time you go to a yoga class, set your intention to rest within, following an inward gaze. Watch your practice from within. Feel you body move from within. Notice how your breath flows. Notice how your body feels. Your body is not like your teachers nor like anyone else’s in the room. Only you know how you feel. Only your body will let you know what it needs. Listen and listen more deeply still. Be in your body and love it for all it gives you. It is home.
Parvati Devi is the editor-in-chief of Parvati Magazine. In addition to being an internationally acclaimed Canadian singer, songwriter, producer and performer, she is a yoga teacher and holistic educator, having studied yoga and meditation since 1987, and developed her own yoga teaching style called YEM™: Yoga as Energy Medicine. Her current show, “Yoga in the Nightclub”, brings forward a conscious energy into the pop mainstream.