Being back in Denmark after traveling in Asia I realize not only how beautiful in a clean, cool & Scandinavian way Denmark is (this I realize just about every time I'm back home) but also how quiet Denmark is. No matter which area of Denmark you visit I bet you won't be far from somewhere quiet.
I realized this the first morning back in my moms house in Souh of Denmark. I had a coffee with my mom and grandmother and as they left for work and errands I found myself with the feeling of being alone with the silence for the first time in a very long time.
Leaving Shanghai was pretty hectic (Shanghai in itself is pretty hectic), taking a yoga teacher training among 14 other people was pretty intense (in a good and challenging way).
So maybe this moment in my mom's kitchen was when I was suddenly hit by one of those: "what just happened" - moments. The first time in a long time where my internal silence met the external silence... if this makes sense? And I found the time to reflect a bit. Do you ever take the time to look inside your busy mind and reflect? You should.
The Importance of Reflecting
I try to reflect a bit every day - I think about my actions, my emotions, my choices, my responds on this given day. And most often I think about how to improve and become a better me. Reflections are such an important aspect of maintaining and not least developing a healthy mind. It helps us getting to know our true self better which is the first step to make real changes to our life.
For me deeper reflections doesn't always come easy. One reason is my frequent change of reality and all the new impressions that come with traveling and another and perhaps more dominating reason is the fact that it's not always a pleasant feeling to reflect and to confront myself with my character.
Blogging here as well as my personal diary/notebook really help me reflect or at least help me remember to reflect as well as put words on my reflections. And what I realized during the last month is how powerful yoga can be in training, taking care of as well as transforming my human mind. Yoga is so much more than a physical art.
The 8-Fold Path of Yoga
For me yoga has always been about the physical body: flexibility, strength & the fascinating art of asanas / yoga postures.
But what I've come to learn and the last month really understand is that yoga practice and the goal of yoga go far beyond the physical aspect. In the Yoga Sutras, the famous Indian sage Patanjali collected and systematized the ancient yoga knowledge. He lay out the 8 limbs of yoga as an eight-fold path to free ourselves from humanity's mental disturbances and become united with the universe.
Here asanas/yoga postures only covers 1 of the 8 limbs and such aspects as self-observation, self-improvement, breathing techniques and concentration practice is of equal importance.
Why Yoga Is So Relevant Today
For most people, becoming united with the universe may sound a bit abstract to have as a goal for one's yoga practice. To use everyday language and "usage", I like to say that the goal with yoga is to take control of our own busy mind. Take control and become able to still the never-stopping fluctuations - the waves of impulsive thoughts, random memories, meaningless worries, unconscious dreams, feelings of sadness, madness, jealousy, loneliness and depression.
With dedicated yoga practice that goes beyond the physical aspect, we can all learn to be more present in the unfolding of each moment. And maybe in this way enjoy every previous day in our life more and with more awareness. And that's worth a lot today with our modern busy lifestyle if you ask me.
Our Yoga Journey
Though yoga is becoming more and more a spiritual journey for me, I still see my asanas practice as the biggest part of practicing yoga. In the end, this was the part that got me into yoga in the first place. But I love the idea that true yoga practice is 24/7 - yogic lifestyle, yogic behavior, yogic choices and yogic actions.
Do you see your yoga practice as a physical art or has it become more of a spiritual journey? I believe that a deeper dedication to yoga will come when we're ready, we shouldn't force it. Every journey starts with the first step and in the Western world getting on the mat is often the first yoga-step.