When we truly face the reality of our life, we realise that our life is not optimal – it is not even close to the best life we could have. Our potential is not being fulfilled. On the contrary when we bring awareness to our life, we come to acknowledge that most of our experiences are full of discomfort. We are shooting blindly in the dark in search of the best option, always seeking for something better. This does not mean we are all miserable in our lives. It simply implies that for some reason, something is holding us back. In today’s world, we are faced with the overwhelming problem that we do not understand our true identity. We are struggling to define ourselves according to the way society sees us, our actions, and our beliefs. It is a common experience during this age to be unhappy, unfulfilled and confused. We constantly try to seek a solution to these problems by searching for a better job, a better house, by waiting in line at the psychology clinic. This is where yoga enters into the picture. Yoga is not some physical exercise. It is an ancient way of life from India that has existed for thousands of years, designed to free us from obstacles and liberate us from fears. Yoga brings us to balance and harmony, giving us the ability to enjoy life, fulfil our potential and find our true identity.
According to yoga, we are not in tune with the universal or our own nature. In modern society, it is clear we are alienated from our own nature and the nature around us because we are under the illusion that our Self is something separate: locked up within a bag of skin, disconnected from other beings in this World. For example, all year long we eat the same vegetables and fruit no matter the season. On top of that what we eat and drink is chemically treated and then packed in plastic. Like that we are detaching ourselves from natural, healthy and seasonally adjusted nutrition. We spend our summers in air-conditioned offices and therefore detach ourselves from the natural weather. Despite the lunar stages of the moon having a great influence on us, we are completely unaware of the moon cycle. Most importantly, we are detached from our bodies – our minds always thinking and wandering far away from our current physical presence. The nature of the mind is to think of the future and dwell in the past. But this is not the truth - the past is just our subjective memory and the future is our illusionary imagination, therefore both are false. We are disconnected from the present, which is the only gate for truth and eternity. This experience causes a lot of suffering and loneliness. According to yoga, everything is one big net and we are a part of this net. This is the reason yoga strives to bring us back into the connection with everything around us, not simply on the intellectual level but on the experiential level. If we feel and experience this union with nature, with other beings and within ourselves, we will achieve contentment because we will be acting according to the law of nature.
Yoga provides us with the tools for improving our relationships by stripping away the illusions that prevent us from connecting with our true Self, with other beings and with life itself. It can be seen as a kind of map that liberates us from the maze of life. It is a map that shows us the way, but does not perform the journey for us. Yoga is the optimal guru connecting us with our inner guru, the one who shows us the way of liberation, provides us guidelines and enables us to make the journey ourselves. Through a holistic method, yoga not only unites our body and mind together but also connects us back to our true nature and to the understanding that we are all part of the whole. Through asana practice, yoga connects our body to our breath and sensations in a peaceful but precise manner, allowing us to meditate on the inner self and experience truth. Such an experience will bring light and instructions in each and every area of life beginning with our actions, thoughts, speech, sleep, social life, breath, posture and more. It will bring us back to the connection with nature. This is called Ashtanga Yoga, the ‘Eight Limbs’ of Yoga. It is very common in yogic practice to emphasise this union. During classes, we often repeat ‘close your eyes, tune in, go inwards, feel your body and mind in order to experience union, present and truth’. But simply reading about it will not help us – it will keep us alienated from the truth. The only way to understand is by performing it in a correct way. For this, we require a teacher who can show us the way in liberating ourselves. Himalayan Iyengar Yoga Center in India is a place where you can find the environment and the guidance to assist you in achieving this state of affairs. It is a place where the teachers aim for this goal and views yoga as a way to reconnect and discover truth.
A common mistake is to approach yoga as a physical aerobic exercise; it is certainly clear from ancient yoga texts that this is not the purpose of yoga. Yoga is the means to a clearer and stronger understanding of life and ourselves, a way in which to live a balanced, harmonious life, to be a part of the whole and act in accordance to it.
Kobi Siman Tov