In this blog post we explore four fundamentals of Yoga. I have found that these fundamentals make a huge difference to the quality of our yoga practice. They are what I have discovered from sharing the invisible principles of yoga that are beyond the body with my classes.
These fundamentals are hidden in every yoga practice, yet many practitioners new and experienced, may have trouble identifying them. Explore the four fundamentals with me!
Understanding the fundamentals speeds your progress
It is true for any area of life, that for any skill, learning the fundamentals dramatically improves the process. If you learn the fundamentals of music then suddenly all music becomes open to you. If you learn the basics of math, then all math is now accessible to you. When you understand how relationships work and how to keep them balanced, then all relationships begin to improve.
This is the same for Yoga. If you can tune into the fundamentals and develop the fundamental skills of yoga in a purposeful way, then all the practices of yoga open up to you.
The truth is that you can practice for many years and not realize that you are actually seeking to develop these four areas. Yet once you become aware of these fundamentals you can purposefully improve them and it will naturally take you deeper into Yoga.
My personal reflection
When I looked at my own practice I could tell that I have followed the path of yoga diligently. And quite honestly, if you asked me a just a couple years ago what was actually improving I probably could not define it to you. I just knew that there was growth and change.
BUT, when I started teaching and sharing Yoga - something began to change. I had to explain what I was doing in my practice of yoga and how I was doing it. This was an incredible challenge - as much of the deeper practice of yoga is unseen, invisible, and beyond the physical.
You can watch someone practicing postures and sitting meditation and think that it is all about what you see. Simply arrange the body, or simply be still. That is the trap that we fall into. So much of yoga is about what we are doing on the inside, with the mind, heart, and even more. Yet we get caught up in only what we can see.
As I began teaching, trying to share what is the deeper practice of yoga I had to learn to explain these fundamentals in a way that others could easily identify. I had to look carefully and discretely to be able to pick out what was evolving within myself in order to explain it to others. This was how I came to identify these four fundamentals of Yoga.
The biggest obstacle in Yoga
The biggest obstacle I have seen in people learning Yoga and in people who have been practicing for many years is that we get caught up in WHAT is being done. We get trapped in the idea that it is about the action or specific practice. That is why we see so many evolving styles of Yoga and meditation - and claims that the the technique or specific practice should be changed.
This is symptom that shows that we are becoming captured by the externals of the practice.
The real importance is to look at HOW we are doing the practice. We must examine the internals of the practice. How we are performing a posture, how we are repeating a mantra, how we are managing the mind. The HOW it is being done is where the skillfulness comes into play.
When you shift to this perspective we will observe that all actions can become yoga. Now we begin living very differently because we are looking at HOW we should live. We realize that how we speak to others, how we do our chores, how we face challenges, how we eat, all of these "hows" are a reflection of the quality of living.
Embracing the four fundamentals
The challenge then is not in the actual growth of these fundamentals - because the practice of yoga naturally evolves who we are. The challenge is in being conscious that this is what is growing and evolving within us. Once we begin seeing that it is these that are developing, we can purposefully drive them further through our practice.
The first fundamental that I share here we have already spoken about in a previous blog post. That yoga leads us to be more conscious - which is the expansion of consciousness. That is certainly the primary practice, always seeking to be more conscious.
As I see it, every practice of yoga, every style , every branch, every different avenue all depend on these four fundamentals of the practice:
When we can see these fundamentals at play in our practice we can begin working with them differently. Certainly once we recognize the strategy that is being used in our yoga practice, we can now go deeper in a way that was not possible before.
Apply the fundamentals to daily living
By learning, understanding and practicing these four fundamentals of yoga a new possibility arises. Now we can move past simply "practicing" and begin "living." When we practice yoga we are engaging in a purposeful way to learn the skills of yoga to transform our lives. When we live in yoga we seek to embody the principles of yoga and to live in alignment.
It is only when we live in yoga that our experience of life is completely transformed. Otherwise we are still caught up in the web of suffering and we are still victims to the flow of life. But the moment we can commit to living in yoga and applying the principles to our life we start aligning with the flow.
This is the experience that I have had in my life being guided by my own master. Before I was deeply engaged with yoga I felt like a victim to life, as though each challenge and life situation was pushing me around and crushing my will. But as I went deeper into yoga and was guided to begin living in yoga that all changed.
I began to experience that life is beautiful and blissful - even amidst challenges that would have crushed me before. I became conscious of an entire part of my own being that I could never have imagined. Being in connection with that enriches my life everyday. My life entered a completely new phase, where I feel continuously inspired and supported as I journey.
That is what I wish everyone could have and hope that they will pursue in their own lives. What do you think of these fundamentals as I have outlined them here? Do you want to begin living in Yoga? I would love to hear from you. Leave me a comment.
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