Finding your ‘Self’ through Yoga
My first ever yoga experience was with a DVD called something like “Hollywood Power Yoga”, and it was ‘guided’ by a group of beautiful Californian beach girls…and I don’t believe that my Soul was present during this experience.
I tried a couple of different variations and DVD’s (I was way too shy and fearful to go to a class back then) over a 2 year period but ended up with a chronic sore lower back and ‘clicky’ hip. When I had a bit of a breakdown (later diagnosed as Hypothyroidism and then Hashimotos, but back then it was what I would call quite severe depression) around 2011 something made me look up yoga again, this time I found a blog site that had a slide show of 50 of the most common yoga poses (it’s here actually, though I guess they have updated and reposted since!) and began to make my way through the series of poses every day.
Everything slowed down in this practice as I made my way from slide to slide. Once I had practiced enough to memorise the sequence I would do the entire right side and then the left with vinyasa’s in between – though at the time I didn’t realise this is what I was doing.
It changed from being about the physical at about day five. In the middle of one of the asanas, as I was taking my eight breaths I suddenly became aware of a presence…not so much around me, but within me. It was so close to the surface that it was impossible to ignore. The awareness of this presence that had stepped forward stopped me in my tracks, I hit the mat and sobbed until I had no tears left. I completely surrendered to the ugly cry.
This happened a lot over a six month period, I would practice my asana and either get half way through and break down or make it to the end and cry during meditation, really at any point that I felt the presence step forward. Some days I would simply just put myself into Adho Mukha Svanasana or Childs Pose and invite the presence so that I could get relief from the emotions that were raging around inside of me.
Yoga is the perfect opportunity to be curious about who you are ~ Jason Crandell
One day when I was going through my beloved sequence and I became aware of the presence within stepping forward I braced myself for tears, but as I moved from pose to pose nothing happened. I even willed myself to cry, because this was what I was used to, this was how it worked. I did yoga, I felt the presence and then I sobbed and snotted all over my yoga mat.
Not this time. This time I felt this beautiful calm swept over me. A feeling of peace and content. It was like a genuine smile from a beloved family member or friend. It was my introduction into what self compassion means and feels like.
As I marvelled at this new awareness, I lay myself down for Shavasana and like a lightening bolt it hit me: I had found ‘Self‘. I had found Me. This was my true self, without ego or beliefs or fears.
My Inner Light. My Soul. The eternal part of me that is OK, and not broken.
This is where the physical practice meets the spiritual aspect of yoga. Different asanas help to remove energetic blocks within the body and create space for Prana (life force) to flow through. For instance, asanas that are working with the hips can often bring up feelings of anger (or rage!) and irritation as this is where we energetically store these emotions created by experiences and traumas. Spending eight breaths (or more if you’re up for it!) in each pose is how we begin to release the blockages in the physical body, and the emotional and the spiritual.
Practicing yoga is a way to meet yourself. At first you may be confronted with feelings and emotions that cause you to feel uncomfortable. You may feel sad, angry or confused. But remember that emotions aren’t You. Just like your thoughts aren’t You. Emotions simply come up to be expressed.
My most favourite thing about finding the presence of My Self within? I never feel alone. I am aware now of the presence within me at all times, that is Me and tap into this when I need support or help. Sometimes I get caught up and forget, but when I’m ready I always find my way back there. And there I am, waiting for myself with compassion.
Creating a Sadhana practice is a great way to begin to explore finding the wise being within, I have previously written a blog on how to go about this HERE
Do you have your own way to connect to self?
For some it is journalling, cooking, walking in nature or looking at the waves of the ocean. How ever you do it, find time each day. Connect to the part of you who isn’t frazzled by the stresses of daily life or affected by beliefs or fears or ego.
Yoga is the journey of the self, through the self, to the self ~ Bhagavad Gita