As a yoga teacher, one of the challenges of the trade is taht I am often asked about neck pain, back pain, and whether or not there is a pose that would help streacth a certain area in the body. What no one ever asks me is how to detach from designs, still the minds’ flucturations, or find steadiness and ease in a body and mind that appear so rigid and unadjustable. Funny, since those are the root practices of yoga.
I have always been under the impression that people don’t talk about the classical philosophy and practice of yoga because they don’t understand it or they are afraid. More likely it’s because of the public image of the cloth diaper-wearing, patchouli-laced, overgrown hippie who talks in strange vagaries about “beingness” and unrelatable terms that involve fabled stories of ancient times where fabled people always did the right thing and never worried about healthcare, taxes, or how to update their new iOS.
In reality, the psychology, philosophy, and practice of yoga is quite practical and very applicable to our modern lives.
The first aspects of yoga are physical. Yama and niyama remind us to be good and do good. Asana keeps us physically fit. Pranayama teaches us to be still and pay attention. Pratyahara bridges what is tangible to what is more abstract and brings us to examine our consciousness.
When we work on our consciousness – our “being-ness” – then we start to see changes in how we think, work, feel, and live. And believe it or not, therein lies our answers to aches and pains, depression, anxiety, and whatever else it is we are looking for when we type Yoga in to the Google search.
And, like all important practices in life, it’s much easier said than done.