- by Lena Younes
Have you ever wondered what this yoga thing is really about? Sure, we know we're bringing our bodies into strange shapes, breathing a whole lot and many of us like going upside down. We also know that the yoga we practice orinated in India, is rooted in the Vedic philosophical system, and stimulates both our energetic and nervous system. But why are we so drawn to it?
The simple answer is that it WORKS. Yoga, The Rocket, Ashtanga - it's all about moving away from what doesn't work towards what does.
I spent my pre-yoga life studying 'Perception of the Other' in sixteenth century Europe. I was quite literally spending my time reading, collecting and analysing all the ways in which we human beings like to differentiate and separate ourselves from each other, instead of moving towards a sense of 'we are one' - in many cases even demonising those who are not of the same religious or ethnic background.
I'd love to say that that's 'History' - but unfortunately - in this Trump and Brexit age - it's still a very real political and social phenomenon.
I'll be honest - I no longer follow politics - history in the making - closely. Shortly after finishing my 200hr Teacher Training at It's Yoga Firenze (now Inbodhi Yoga Firenze), I found that every time I went back to my research, I would feel stressed, tired, drained and often in pain.
Simply put, that way of interacting with the world and mySelf no longer worked for me. Studying the past - though it held many valuable life lessons - depressed me and made me feel that things would never change. That revolutions were doomed to fail and that those rising up would turn into oppressors every time.
I'm not saying that grassroot movements are not important - but what worked for me was getting on my mat, into my body and my breath. What I needed was a silent revolution.
Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga is all about transformation. It starts at the physical level - as we begin to build a regular practice, we start to develop strength, flexibility and a sense of vitality that many of us feel we have lost.
We begin to move into embodiment and breath awareness - and as we move into our feeling body, and out of our thinking mind, we become aware of the importance of ahimsa - non-violence - towards ourselves and those around us.
If I spend an hour a day, or even three hours a week, looking after my body and my breath, I am much less likely to want to hurt myself or others, whether intentionally or not.
As I begin to practice with a community, and feel them breathing and moving in the same way, and perhaps even look up to see them struggle and succeed in the same way as myself, I may begin to realise that we are the same. I have hands and feet, you have hands and feet. I'm afraid of falling, you're afraid of falling. I feel good after a yoga class, you feel good after a yoga class - and when we fly, we fly together.
And so the silent revolution begins within each of us and from there allows us to connect to each other as well as to our living, breathing planet.