One of the hardest things to swallow in India (no, not chickpeas for breakfast which were rather delicious) was understanding that ‘being right’ is just misidentifying with your ego. That the need to be right isn’t truly important and that being right doesn’t necessarily make you happy. Can you see why I am no longer a practising lawyer? ; ) Defining yourself as being smart and intelligent causes more separation between people as it can lead to the belief that you are more capable and therefore more valuable in this life than others are. (Ironic that today is GCSE results day in the UK.) And it also separates you from seeing your true Self which is more, so much more, than just brain power and your mind.
A dear friend of mine posted a book to me today which challenges the belief that the basis of yoga postures (the Asanas) comes from ancient Indian teachings. This friend told me some months ago that she had bought this book for me for my birthday back in May but that her husband had gently suggested that it could be offensive to me as someone who had only just returned from India and Yoga Teacher Training, and who has in the last 10 months ‘bought in’ fully to the yogic lifestyle and teaches it to others for a living! I can understand his apprehension not only for those reasons but also because I can be a bit of a hot head at times and will stridently defend myself, my ego and others to the death even if I am slightly wrong, or well, sometimes actually completely wrong! And I smiled to myself when I read the back cover as my initial reaction was to immediately marshall my defence that for a start the premise of the book appears to be wrong as traditional Yoga is not just about the Asanas which are actually the smallest part of a yogic lifestyle but this isn’t me trying to be right before opening the first page up… it isn’t…it isn’t…
Before my travels last year and before embracing Yoga I was at a spiritual dead end. I believed in science, in the Big Bang, and that there was no God. I felt irritated when friends and family got married in Church for tradition when they never attended Church otherwise. I felt frustrated and challenged when friends and family asked me to be a godmother to their children because it meant I had to go through a performance of renouncing the devil and accepting the one true Lord Jesus Christ when I didn’t believe in that. It was the principle of the thing. Yes, it was my ego and my need to be principled and right, and yes, I got over myself on all of those occasions, wore a fascinator and smiled and enjoyed the ceremony (and my fairy godmother wings).
Despite my cynicism or realism (depending on your personal perspective), I did sometimes envy those with a faith. I imagined it would be helpful during more difficult times to have the support of a religion and a community and to give up that sense of purpose to a greater power, to a God. For me, I imagined it would make death easier to digest for sure.
When I trundled off to India to explore yoga I had a few things in my mind that I thought I would achieve – the ability to do a headstand and more of an understanding of why I felt a little calmer and less stressed after a yoga session. I did not envisage I would become a yoga teacher, would happily chant Hare Krishna in a darkened room, pour salt water in one nostril and out the other, become spiritual or become a vegetarian. And of all those things I think the vegetarianism would have been the most hard to believe!
As you know and as I continue to preach – Yoga has changed my life. It’s changed my health, my heart, my body, my happiness, my eating habits, my career, and my residential abode. It has also showed me that each living being is a perfect creation of energy in whatever form (human, dog, cat, cow) and that we all share this life, this World and we are all equal in our right to be here. That each of us is just trying to find our own way of living peacefully and happily.
Yoga science believes the sound of the Big Bang is OM and that there is energy or a light which runs through everything and connects us all. You can interpret this to be God or the Divine, or just simply the energy of the Universe, the energy that created the Universe and everything around us – man, woman, child, & tree. It is this light that we acknowledge with the greeting Namaste -an opportunity to acknowledge that we are all equal (energetically speaking).
Yoga has opened me up spiritually. And Yoga has done all of this for me because I have let it. I have allowed myself to open up to a science and to a disciplined lifestyle where I am kinder to my body and mind. I have faith in the process, I have faith in myself and that’s the key with Yoga – it is a lifestyle which can be followed by everyone but it is different for each of us. We will interpret it differently and share the experience with others differently. There is no one way of Yoga nor is there one way of teaching it.
One of the lessons I am continuing to remind myself is that life is a journey and not a destination and that we never stop learning. People will challenge you, educate you, hurt and disappoint you, or fill your heart with joy but you are always responsible for your reactions. Being wrong bruises your ego. But a bruised ego is just that, a bruising but you can turn it into a sh1tty day, month or even a decade if you over-attach yourself to the trauma.
I hope to get around to reading this book from my friend which appears on the face of it to challenge my teachings and challenge what I have learned so far about the origins of Yoga from my Guru in India who I deeply respect. However, whatever is in this text, whatever is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ this book cannot take away my faith in Yoga which has brought out the best in me. Call me brainwashed, call me naïve or a cliché, whatever you like, but I am happy. And I am always willing to learn more, to be wrong however uncomfortable that may make my ego.
 Yoga Body The Origins of Modern Posture Practice by Mark Singleton