Imagine this. You’ve been at work all day, you had a healthy lunch, you resisted that donut box in the break room, you’re looking good, you’re feelin’ the groove. Then the afternoon hunger pangs hit. It’s way past lunch, and dinner is far away. It’s that time of day where you really don’t want that healthy fruit snack cause you’ve been working hard all day. You want some emotional satisfaction from your snack. You want the snack to say ‘good job, you deserve me today’. But you are strong, with great willpower and decide to go for that cut fruit snack stashed in your desk drawer. And at that moment your colleague comes and puts a Mars bar on your desk as a gesture of gratitude for you covering for them when they went on that coffee break with their new boyfriend from accounting. Now imagine, if, instead of wolfing down that chocolate bar in gratitude, you calmly put it aside, and instead, reach for the fruit salad. You are not lying to yourself, pushing yourself hard or weeping tears of resistance while you hungrily stare at the chocolate bar. No. You actually want that fruit, you naturally prefer it to the chocolate. Wow! Wouldn’t that be great? Wouldn’t that just solve all your life’s problems? So don’t go grabbing that chocolate bar yet, this scenario is very much possible.
How? With the right yoga. The yoga that is right for your body type. And also the Yoga that helps you to focus inwards. Not the yoga where you are looking at outer things like how nice is the studio, what yoga pants am I wearing and wondering if that cute guy is gay, or even, how far can I go in a pose.
Most people do NOT get the benefits mentioned above. Because in today’s world we have gone so far away from Yoga. Yoga is more of a business now thanks to burgeoning studios, new age gurus and dime-a-dozen teacher training programs. The latter being just another quick training, commercial school to get that instant ‘career’ as a Yoga ‘teacher’. As soon as someone goes into a yoga teacher training program cause they want that to be their career, you know they are not really going to be helping spread the real understanding of Yoga.
I am sure they mean well. But when you start on the macro level (with your training) with an ‘achievement’ mentality, that’s the energy you are going to bring into the micro level (when you guide students in the postures in the class).
Hence most teachers and classes wrongly misguide their students when they “encourage”, push and prod their bodies into poses where they are not going naturally. Or when they tell them to hold poses even when the student is uncomfortable in them. Telling them they will get stronger mentally and physically. This is not boot camp or military academy. If your teacher is encouraging you to push yourself further it’s not Yoga. Just because it’s done ‘gently’ does not mean it’s justified or that it’s correct. It’s bringing the same stressful mentality – of getting somewhere from here – that caused you to join yoga in the first place.
True Yoga is about accepting, being, breathing and observing. Are you focusing within the pose and accepting where you are? Or are you resisting where you are naturally at and pushing yourself or being pushed to go further and further till you feel you can’t breathe or it’s stretching so much that you are in a competition of will power within yourself. That does not sound relaxing to me. What is different in this approach from your normal mental approach to everything else in life? Teachers that tell you to go somewhere else, rather than accept where you are at, are victims of the fast-track, instant gratification, training programs that can never achieve in 6 months what years of anushasana, and abhyasa can do.
I am not saying that don’t try to touch your knee to your forehead for e.g. Stretch further, but not to the point where it takes you away from your center. Yoga means to join. Unite the small mind with the Big Mind. The body with the spirit. The breath with the mind. The mind with the body. When such unity happens many conflicts get resolved. For e.g. health conflicts are arrested before they manifest.
And that is where the fruit vs chocolate comes in. In that scenario there is a conflict between the tongue and the body. The tongue wants foods that are not good for the body. The tongue is not in touch with the needs of the body. Hence it likes things that are not necessarily helpful to our optimal health. When mind and body are not in touch with each other, such conflicts happen. With the correct practice of yoga, such conflicts resolve. And you naturally go for the fruit instead of the chocolate.
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