>>You mentioned that it is important to ‘practice yoga on your own’. What do you mean by that?
I believe that it is very important to go to yoga classes with a very experienced yoga teacher who has immersed themself in all limbs of yoga for many years, so that they can drop gems of wisdom into their teaching, as well as ensuring that you are practicing correctly and appropriately for your own level of development and ability.
By going to yoga classes, each person learns how to practice the asana with good alignment, ensuring they get the benefits of the practices as they were intended. If one tries to teach oneself yoga from a book, or through DVD’s, one cannot see one’s own alignment, and it is quite possible to practice incorrectly for many years, without having the external eyes (and experience) of a yoga teacher standing beside you.
Another important aspect of having an experienced yoga teacher beside you, is that the teacher will be able to ‘hear your breath’, and sense your energies, and give you guidance on how to breath properly, and ensure you are not straining, or forcing, and many other aspects of the breath which are very important such as the rhythm, pauses, ratios etc.
They will be able to give you guidance on where to place your focus of attention.
An experienced teacher will be ‘able to read you’ and see your strengths and your weaknesses, and recommend certain practices for you to do each day so that you can build on your strengths, but also develop those areas you may find weaker.
And at the appropriate time, to introduce you to the more esoteric practices of yoga that are essential for deeper inner transformation. To introduce you to the chakras, and main energy channels and teach you practices on how to get in touch with those inner energies, and also how to influence them.
However… and this is a big ‘However’… I feel that a large amount of yoga practices have a very important function to ‘calm down the left hemisphere of the brain’, and to activate the right hemisphere. By this I mean… that for normal westerners, we are continuously talking and thinking. Sometimes out loud, and sometimes internal dialogue. Continually using language and logic which is mainly left hemisphere based. This thinking and talking and constant chatter actually distracts our awareness from our true being. It pulls us out of the present moment. It distances our awareness from actually ‘being’.
Over many years of practice, as one learns to let go of these ‘thinking and talking’ inner patterns, one begins to experience a much more centred and ‘feeling state of being’. Awareness of one’s breath. Awareness of how one’s body feels. Awareness of one’s surroundings. Awareness of others. An awareness which is within the present moment… awareness of everything that there is.
All without thinking. All without talking. All with one’s awareness inwardly focussed. A Sense of Being.
The minute the chatter starts… it pulls us away from this awareness. Away from this state of being.
So when you are in a yoga class with a teacher guiding you… inevitably they have to speak. Inevitably they have to communicate with you, in order for you to learn how to do the practices correctly. And this talking by the teacher, this thinking and grappling of your mind with taking on new things actually pulls you from being within the present moment.
You do have to go to an experienced yoga teacher to learn the practices, in order so that you understand them and are able to immerse yourself within the practice correctly.
However, it is then essential that you actually do the practices on your own each day… at the start of each day, on your own yoga mat at home… in silence.
That is the only way that you can enter these states of being. That is how the yoga practices will actually start to transform your consciousness.
It will not happen within a class of people. It will not happen with someone else talking to you.
It will not happened if you are playing music in the background, or having other distractions instead of allowing your awareness to become inwardly focussed and becoming in tune with the more subtle layers of your being.
This is yoga. This is yoga practice.
Going to a yoga class, is an important step in learning the techniques about how to do these practices correctly. If you are fortunate enough to find an experienced yoga teacher who is aware of this process.
But after that… you have to actually bake the cake. You can’t sit there going to classes listening to instructions for the rest of your life.
This ‘sense of being’ that arises through doing your practice each day on your own mat yourself, can take some time for it to build up. It may take a few weeks or more for some people to experience what it is I am referring to.
But it is so special… don’t give up.