Yoga Flows With You
Yoga is a lifelong practice that is constantly adjusting to whatever is happening in your life. If you’ve had an injury, you can modify and still take classes so you can heal with more ase. If you’re tired, it gives you energy. If you’re high strung, it calms you down, and so on. I love yoga and its ability to restore you back to homeostasis; it gives you exactly what you need. Although I know how good yoga is for me, sometimes I dread it. When you’ve been practicing for as long as I have, at times it seems as if I’ve heard it all and done it all. I’ve also experienced the evolution of yoga since the early 2000s and I don’t always like what I see, so that discourages me from practicing (or is that just a sneaky ego excuse?). Committing to doing the things that are good for you even though you may not always want to do them is the definition of mental strength. It’s a quality that will carry you to higher levels of accomplishment, both personally and professionally. There’s also something to be said for seeing the positive amidst the negative and shifting your perspective when you’re stuck in deep pessimism.
My Yoga Path
I started doing yoga in my early twenties, fresh out of college, while I was working on Wall Street in New York City. In order to combat a 10-hour-a-day sedentary lifestyle and to help me with stress relief, a friend suggested I take a yoga class at a nearby Equinox. My first impression was that yoga was weird and a little boring. I was used to high intensity classes and running for my physical fitness needs. I didn’t really connect with it and it would be another two years before I took my next class. When 9/11 happened, I was brutally reminded of my impermanence and how I was living my days doing something I loathed. It wasn’t long thereafter that I quit my job in search of doing something I was more passionate about. Yoga called to me, and to this day, I don’t know exactly why.
The Teacher Will Appear When the Student Is Ready
Over the next few months I decided to take as many classes as I needed until I found the best one. Dharma Mittra, who became my first teacher, is one of a kind and probably one of the most talented instructors I have ever met. The first class I took with him was so powerful that I decided to pursue yoga as a career. To say that I had fallen in love with yoga was an understatement. Dharma was living and breathing what he preached, and he had a way of making yoga practical, fun, and compelling. I wanted to be like that, and I wanted to share with everyone how yoga carries you through the storms, opens you up to new possibilities and restores you back to your natural, peaceful state.
What Happened to Yoga?
After my time in New York I went on to teach in Los Angeles, and eventually moved to San Diego, where I opened Buddhi Yoga with Amanda McCarroll in 2014. Over the last two decades we’ve seen yoga change drastically. When we were in our twenties yoga was still very Eastern and traditional. A typical class had no music and lasted ninety minutes. Breath, philosophy and mantra were more prominent. Yoga was stripped down, uncomplicated, subtle and real. When social media hit, things began to change. Yogis started to get famous for their extreme poses and posting booty shots with captioned spiritual jargon became the norm. Today, yoga is practiced by 55 million Americans and revenue from the yoga industry is reaching upwards of 11.96 Billion U.S. dollars. What they’re selling us isn’t yoga, its cute yoga pants and tragic symbols for pseudo spirituality. Sometimes, I hate yoga and want to run far away from its culture. I already wasn’t one to attend yoga festivals and I don’t like using buddhas, mandalas, or malas to portray a spiritual vibe. I don’t always like what I see, and I often think we have lost sight of what is important. A lot of today’s yoga is watered down and far removed from what it was intended to do. The ego got us once again! Goat yoga! Cannabis yoga! Anything to stay relevant and get more likes. My preference has always been the light, straight-to-the-point, stripped down yoga rooted in old school teachings and free of BS. I often have to remind myself that sharing this is all I can do to stay true to myself in a sea of ever-changing gimmicks.
I Love Yoga, My Rock for Life
As I said before, yoga is a lifelong practice that moves and evolves with you. It’s a system that has many levels (physical, emotional, mental and moral) to assist individuals in living a fulfilling life free of suffering. The ultimate goal of yoga is to provide the possibility of spiritual transcendence in the modern world. Showing up day after day gives you a chance to see things with brand new eyes, to shift perspective, to practice less judgement, and to embrace all the different permutations of yoga as they are today. You might just need to do a little more searching to find a style and teacher that resonates with you. I suggest reading yoga books, too. The old classics such as The Bhagavad Gita and Light On Yoga. It’s also important to push yourself to keep taking classes, even when you dread it. I’ve learned that yoga is my rock and no matter what I’m going through on any given day, it will always enhance my experience. The ups and downs will always be there, but yoga keeps me floating steadily with a positive state of mind. Think of yourself as a student of life, for life. Your sole objective is to keep learning, evolving, and expanding your mind.
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