“Yoga is the science of experience, the art of living.” Tiwariji, my pranayama guru once told me. When I first heard him say this in class, the meaning of it seemed somewhat abstract and vague to me. Now after years of practice and through life experience, this statement slowly reflected in all aspect of my life.
The word “Yoga” often conjures up a sense of mystery of the East, of spirituality, and a hard to reach sense of abstraction. The only thing that seems tangible is the amazingly bendy and twisty poses. But it is in the abstract and the concrete that “Yoga” scientifically occurs in life.
No matter what our cultural or family background may be, we will come across the unavoidable emotional and physical trauma due to the natural occurrence of birth, age, illness and death. When it occurs, if we didn’t have a specific tool or practice, we feel helpless against all these feelings. We can only allow our body, mind and emotions be swept through the hurricane, destroying the inner “home”.
In terms of the mind, the founder of Insight Yoga Sarah Powers, who has greatly influenced me, taught us to practice “mindfully” anchor on the breath. It is like a refuge, allowing us to abide from within, staying with our physical sensations, emotions, and thoughts as is, without any judgments. When we practice like this again and again, we develop the peaceful inner strength to face everything that life brings, whether it is the joy of a birth or the sadness of a death.
As for the pranayama practice, it brought me the awareness to observe the subtle energy of the body. Working with the more intricate energetic layer, the practice allows the body to work more efficiently inside and out. The two different types of asana, an active Yang practice and a passive Yin practice to me are both a new way of meeting the body. In my asana practice, I try to practice without expectations or judgment, instead, using the awareness of the breath to observe my body’s current condition and need. This, in terms, affects the choices I make in my daily life, from eating to other daily routines.
Being married with a family of two kids, I’m even more grateful for the foundation and spiritual power gained from my yoga practice. It is like a refuge in the crazy world that every mother has had experienced: one second being in the chaos of kid’s crying and screaming and next second feeling the motherly love because of their bright smiles. In Yoga Sutra and many Buddhist texts, the word “love” is not mentioned, but if we can be grounded in our breath, be compassionate and try not to cause harm to ourselves and others, even the mind occasionally drifts, judges or scatters, “home” is right there in between a thought and a breath. And real “love” is manifested in every observation and breath. Blessing to those of you that are reading this. May you in your own way, taking a step-by-step, find your path home.