The only way in which yoga can be truly transformational is if we sustain a regular and reflective practice.This is the challenge we all face. We all think our problems or daily duties are unique, and that if we only had more time we would practice! The truth is that if we make a start, however small, the time for practice will appear.
I see amazing examples of change through yoga. I see it in the eyes of my students, especially those on teacher training, for when they truly engage with their practice the transformation shines through. The change in their lives is inspiring, as new possibilities open before them. This may result in a new relationship which blossoms, a growing sense of the bigger picture, and how we are all personally responsible for change and evolvement collectively. This leads us to question such things as eating meat and fish, for without personal transformation then collective transformation cannot happen.
Alternatively, when students aren’t fully engaging with their practice, or just go through the motions the results can be detrimental. The student may still be able to perform gymnastics, which on the surface will to some look impressive, the problem can then be we become fixated on the outward appearance, which in my experience can lead us up a blind alley. How we look on camera becomes our goal, not on how we act in our lives. This will lead us away from yoga into blind commercialism, although we may not even be aware of it and we will defend our position.
Yoga is a holistic practice, and any outwardly results of your practice are just a by-product. They can be considered as the manifestations of a practice and recognised for what they are. Any real change may be measured in our outlook and how we react to life’s challenges. A recognition that we are not separate or need to compete with people, but that we are all part of the macrocosm.
Evidence of yoga as change may be seen through our heightened sense of self awareness, and how we impact on everything around us. We may become more aware of how our actions affect our reality, and how if we change our actions we change the world we perceive. We can actively begin to create our reality, from a position of what we need rather than what we think we want.
One of the themes I discuss in detail with the students on the Yoga Dharma Teacher Training courses is the concept of Dharma. I interpret Dharma as our duty and our life’s work. For me to know what our life’s work is fundamental, otherwise how do we know what it is we want. I am asked by my students, how we know what our Dharma is, my answer is to be as self-reflective as we can manage. Once we begin to practice yoga as a holistic practice, rather than a set of exercises, and we practice self-awareness we will gain insight into what we really want.