Over the years my experience of teaching yoga has exposed me to many surprising, humorous and even alarming incidents that have taken place in the yoga class. This has made me realise the different motivations people have for wanting to study yoga.
Some people are bored. The weekly yoga class is a substitute for the game of bridge or tennis they have grown tired of playing. They want to experience something new – something from the ‘Mysterious East’ to add flavour to their lives.
Then there is the student who is looking around for something they can show off at the next party they go to. The headstand seems to be the favourite party trick for this purpose. This party-goer will exhibit, after a few rounds of beer, how they can do yoga. Up they go into the headstand, surrounded by their admiring friends. This type of student uses yoga to show off and to inflate their own sense of importance.
Some are motivated by the need to remain forever young. They realise that the creams and beauty treatments have failed so they try yoga as a substitute for their growing anxiety of having to face old age.
Some people are lonely. They don’t want to be associated with the type of person who hangs around the bars and local entertainment centers every night, they want to be with someone who is a bit more meaningful, has some grey matter between their ears, is thoughtful, mindful and has a flat stomach instead of a beer-boep, so they come to a yoga class hoping to connect.
For others yoga is an extension of a chosen life-style. They are health conscious, they already have a specific eating regime that keeps them slim and trim, their clean blood circulating, their muscles moving filled with anti-oxidants. Their motivation is to keep living and to stay healthy.
The aim or motivation of yoga is not any one of these things that I have described above. Certainly, by practicing yoga daily, you will have more meaning added to your life and you will not be bored. Your worry lines too will become less as you tone up your body and free your mind from daily tensions. You will also experience a sense of peace and connection not only with others but with yourself. You may even maintain your health. But these are all side-effects.
The true secret of yoga is union. Union with what you might ask? The answer in a nutshell is a union with an energy system that is within each of us and connects us to everything else on this planet, in our solar system and with the cosmos – the all-powerful sub-atomic energy that manifests as cosmic consciousness and translates itself as all-embracing love. This love is a journey and a destination that brings you in touch with your Authentic Self.
By being in touch you become who you truly are and what you are meant to be. You can shine and by shining others will benefit from your glow. This happens when you realise stage by stage that all the motives that brought you to the yoga class in the first place are irrelevant compared to the experience you can achieve through regular attendance.
By learning to realise stage by stage this union our original motives will drop away. This awareness brings about freedom from fear of old-age as well as the complexes, depressions, physical, mental and spiritual anxieties that originally motivate us to join a class.
The Kneeling Pose
The Kneeling Pose is traditionally associated with a readiness to learn and prepares one for reflection. It trains you in the art of being still. It is used in Japan for meditation.
Kneel on the floor. Place your knees and heels together. Make sure that the upper surfaces of your feet – including your toes – are resting on the floor.
Now sit down, resting the weight of your buttocks on your heels. Keep your spine erect, but relax your head and shoulders. The back of your head and buttocks should be in alignment with each other and your chin parallel to the tops of your thighs.
Fold your hands, palms facing upwards on your thighs. Breathe deeply and try to remain still for as long as possible.
Your eyes can either be closed or you can look at your knees or gaze into the middle distance.
In the beginning, if you find that your knee joints are stiff, you can roll a small towel or put a small cushion between the back of your knees and your heels to relieve the pressure.