I choose Yoga

My most recent post encountered a blended mix of beliefs and conflict regarding my use of social media. Upon completion of writing it, the decision was made to cancel all my active social media accounts, and I have been enjoying the space that comes with simplifying life and reconnecting with people using the more traditional modes of communication.

I wasn’t convinced that I would come back. I have used my accounts predominantly, with myself as a visual focus, to garner attention and curiosity towards the teachings and practices associated with the Yogic way of life. This has often given me pause for thought as I revisit the bizarre world of ‘marketing’ yoga through myself on a device, people I will never actually meet, hold in their hands, and miles away from where I currently stand.

There will always be benefits and consequences to the ‘art’ of this new, online world we have all become a part of, or, which has become a part of us. I have always had concern that the material I deliver, was of substance and for a greater good. I knew that if I did make it back online, it would be for the reasons I have always maintained – connecting with a wider community, to share and encourage those who have an interest, to the spiritual pursuits we like to identify as yoga and meditation.

As Ashtanga Yoga Guru, Sri Pattabhi Jois once said:

“Yoga is possible for anybody who really wants it. Yoga is universal…. But don’t approach yoga with a business mind looking for worldly gain.”

Yoga is not a business. It’s a practice. It’s specific and direct guidance on the ways in which you can refine aspects of mind and body to connect to a higher source, whatever you choose to ‘label’ it. It’s a way of life, which, if followed with determination, compassion and devotion, will ultimately lead you to the path of self-realisation. Also known as liberation, nirvana, or as I like to call it, moksha.

Yoga is an ancient science which has proven for more than 5000 years that it works.

We are not just talking about strutting a few poses here and there, or exercising the body for competition of physical appeal. The lovely apparel we adorn these yogi bodies with, while practical and designed to hold us (especially, the girls!) in all the right places do have a place and serve a very important purpose, it’s also not about the clothes, the mat, or the latest non-slip gimmick device.

We are not playing games with external forces to control or manipulate others, let alone direct energy to a point of vibrating so high we have lost touch with the reality around you (unless of course you are just levitating your way to complete liberation – NOTE: without attachment to that blissful, floating feeling); there should also be no desire to create or manifest fantasies, illusions and delusions, which serve no purpose other than for personal gain or pleasure.

We are talking about cutting it all back to grass roots. Getting rid of the weeds, filtering out the bacteria, purifying mind (meditation) and body (yoga and pranayama) to accept and surrender to what is – truth. Direct experience and wisdom of who YOU are and your purpose in this world.

Those who practice, will experience many fluctuations in the mind and body, in yoga you will often hear these referred to as energy shifts. As you start work on purifying the mind and body, it is only natural, that you start to agitate the dirt that’s been holding all these old weeds down for so long; patterns of behaviour, ways of thinking. This starts to stir things up a bit and creating a little mud, a bit of murkiness.

Unfortunately, at this stage, some people leave the practice entirely, not really understanding that it is working its beautiful and transformative magic perfectly. That if they stick it out just a bit longer, eventually, that mud will clear and make way for fresh, new flowing water and energy, into their lives.

Your perspective changes, first subtly. You may not even recognize the changes in yourself, although ask your closest friends, family or partners and they will almost always admit to noticing a difference. For some of us, the change may happen so drastically that we cannot help but commit immediately to the lifestyle it entails.

This is, naturally, when things start to stir again, or, on the flip side, stagnate even. The real test of your commitment is up for assessment, and once again, here is where we start to lose some of our spiritual drive, once so committed to the path, and back onto a system which hasn’t been working, but we have always been told, is the way, the truth. This is of course, the biggest delusion of all. It is what I like to call, ‘The Truman Show’ of life.

I, myself, have recently undergone what felt like, an endless succession of ‘life’ tests. None of which I could ever control, but all of which I could observe without getting emotionally attached. Needless to say, I failed this task hideously.

I was distraught. How could I, after all the change, the transformation, the encouragement for so many others; how could ‘I’ let myself down like this. The repetitive dialogue in my head went something along the lines of this:

‘You’ve been preaching non-reaction now for some time. You’ve been using YOU, yourself, as living proof of the positive effect and transformation of yoga and meditation techniques. You’ve been empowering others, to learn how to empower themselves. And, now, here, look at you. A complete mess, a shell of a woman that once was, you call yourself a teacher? What kind of a teacher could possibly let emotions and the energy of others intoxicate her life like this?’

This is self-deprecation at its best and lends itself to the ugly un-truth we like to call ego. This ego, always ready and waiting to drag us back down when we’re making progress. It will lead you down many twists and turns and direct you away from the very thing you should be heading towards. Quite often it masquerades as you, your intuition, but this is its job. It’s often also referred to as the divide in consciousness, and it takes a very keen and alert observer to catch it before it does any real damage.

In my eyes, I was living proof of everything that could have been or might have been, but is now in desperate need of a serious reality check. When in ‘reality’, the real test was the ability to face all of these things, experience these feelings as exactly what they were, feelings and nothing more, and get back on with it.

Humans often make the mistake of believing we are no more than the feelings we experience, when in actuality, they are a passing sensation experienced within our mind and body with which we have no right to make claim or ownership. True to the teachings of yoga and the Vipassana technique of meditation, this extends beyond our material possessions, to thoughts and feelings we choose to possess in our minds, and eventually end up manifesting in our physical bodies.

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It is always a choice, and that choice is always ours.

I have no idea where my life would have gone, if these practices weren’t so established and integrated into this life I am now leading. There are still up’s and down’s, we are, after all, living with others who are experiencing their own feelings, their own lives and cultivating their own perspectives – whether it be truth or illusion.

As I always say, ‘If I had mastered it by now, I would no longer be here, on this earth.’

We can only control, and should, only control, what is happening within. Once we have a grasp of ourselves, we share this energy with others, creating ripples, sometimes waves, which extend, reaching, weaving, and manifesting in the space of those people. Your friends & family, loved ones, (perceived) enemies, the gas station attendant, the till operator at the checkout…

It is, in a sense, our service to humanity, to share the energy that is love, which is compassion, which is truth, acceptance and wisdom. If you are cultivating energy which carries darkness, anger, guilt, sadness, depression, even hatred; despite your misbelief that it is only you who have been affected, you have no choice but to share this with the rest of us unless you work to change your own perspective, your own attachment to these emotions or feelings.

It’s ALL of our duties, to serve humanity. If one of us becomes affected, eventually, many, or even ALL of us become affected.

I started teaching yoga because, one day during practice and observing myself, I suddenly recognized the many positive changes and transformations that had taken place since prioritising yoga in my life. Meditation hadn’t really entered into my world to the degree it has now, so this experience was merely through the practice of the yoga asanas, pranayama and a very strong determination to change my life’s path. This all culminated in the beginning of physical purification within the body. Naturally, I started noticing changes in the way I viewed this life, this world, and, in the way I reacted or didn’t react.

During this observation, the realization hit me fast and, in all honesty, I almost didn’t see any other way to proceed, than to take the path with which I have. The decision to start teaching was not part of an image, was most certainly not a financial decision, and was not taken lightly. But once the decision was made, it was with firm determination and clear goals for what it was I intended to ‘share’ with humanity. The decision to start teaching had EVERYTHING to do with humanity.

I remember the thought so vividly, ‘If yoga can transform my own world and change my own perspective to such a degree, that I, have literally, saved myself from subsequent demise; imagine what would happen if the entire world started implementing these practices into their lives. How peaceful and beautiful the world would be. Back to, what I can only imagine, a world we were always supposed to be. Living in harmony with one another, sharing as one collective whole, this beautiful universe.’

Teaching yoga is my service to humanity.

Here we find ourselves full circle as we reconnect with the opening topic of social media. Yes, I am back. I will do my best, to uphold yogic morals, ethics and beliefs while sharing with the public images, quotes, posts and tips as well as ‘promoting’ the lifestyle. I am after all, living proof of deeply personal changes and transformations and my experience has been direct and true. Consider me a ‘yogini work in progress’. The eternal student and believer of others, a sometimes teacher, and predominantly, a human just trying to be-ing. Sometimes this human gets it wrong, but believe me when I say, never with the intention of getting it wrong.

Learn the practice of Yoga. Start meditating, if only for 5 minutes. When it starts to get under your skin, experience the shifts without leaving the practices behind, know that, this too, shall pass. Then, when you want to know more, complete a Yoga Teacher Training course, if only for ‘yourself’. Then, when you find yourself thinking like me, share your knowledge of the practices to the world and let’s work with strong determination, love and devotion to unite as a whole and live in harmony with one another.

Peaceful, happy and loved. What more could one possibly ask for?

It feels so good to be back!

Peace and love and all of life’s blessing to you readers, be happy and share it with all!

Live.Love.Give.Yoga.

Annie x

*** The beautiful beach sunrise image you see above gives credit to: http://hook.media/ and my extended family at http://www.houseofyoga.co.nz/ ***

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