Raising Awareness Through Yoga

The moment we step on the mat there is a shift inside us. We all know yoga is seen as both a physical and spiritual practice, but what does that really mean? It means changing the lens inside our mind’s eye, it means creating a shift in our physical and mental perception. Yoga asana (postures) are only the gate into the gifts yoga can bring. 

The reason we go to classes, or work with an instructor one on one is for guidance far deeper than just stepping a foot forward, lunging, or doing down dogs. It’s to create awareness to our present moment which is easily found in the physical body. Our minds can day dream into many different places, but pinch yourself and you are instantly brought back to the now. 

We step on the mat to leave our daily hustle & bustle and find peace and quiet. But how do you notice this shift if the mind is not still, or we are not feeling amazing physically? 

The minute we start moving through the poses, the mind let’s go of the chatter and focuses on the quiet transitions, on the sound and feeling of the breath filling the body. All this happens gradually over the course of time and with guidance from a qualified instructor. When we reach that place of quiet then awareness blossoms! 

Yoga means to unite, to yoke together in Sanskrit, an ancient Hindu language. This union is of the mind, the body and the spirit. Awareness lies within this realm of consciousness removing the veil of ignorance into the self. 

Many scholars have written about this connection to self through practicing diligently the yoga asanas, through contemplation, studying, meditating, all for the same goal: to reach a state of being cognizant of our thoughts, words and actions. 

As famed Yogi BKS Iyengar said, “Yoga for me as I understand is to unite the body with the mind, and taking body and mind together to bring it in par with the eternal evergreen state of the self”. 

This means that when we practice with steadfastness, with focus and good intention, we can all reach a level of awareness equal to spiritual masters. We can all reach that level if we want it!

The changes are evident fairly quickly as we first notice physical benefits of flexibility, strength and endurance. Then the others start to pop up! We notice we are more tolerant, less anxious, able to focus more, not stressed, more open to change and acceptance. 

These all are benefits of being aware of how special we truly are as humans and can create change always and whenever! Yoga keeps taking us deeper and deeper as we start examining how the mind works, how we can turn the chatter on and off at will. The mind is merely an action that can be stopped, just like walking, one can stop the thoughts that flood our daily existence.

Take a look one day, sit in silence with yourself and listen to what’s going on inside the mind. Then try to look for the silence behind those thoughts. The physical practice of yoga can train us to create that quiet, to be able to notice the gaps between thought and breath. 

When the body is healthy and strong, then we can focus on making the mind equally as healthy and strong. Some yogis can stop their heartbeat, some can live without food or water for weeks, months.

This is all due to mental control and pure awareness of their bodies in connection to mind and self. The more we practice attentiveness to ourselves, the easier it becomes to notice the beauty in living. 

We allow the limited time we have to infuse us with inspiration for the betterment of our daily lives and how they affect others around us. The best part is, anyone can start a yoga practice! There are different varieties of yoga all over the world. It is a practice designed to improve everyone’s lives one breath and a time, one pose at a time.

‘Be the change that you wish to see in the world.’

-Mahatma Ghandi.