Talking about yoga can seem so implausible, so naive, so idealistic: ‘feel the joy’, ‘open your heart’, ‘fill your body with light’. People who love yoga love talking to other people who love yoga, because the experience cuts through the clichés. I really do know what it’s like to feel my heart open, feel joyful and energized, to feel my body fill with light, but, weary of sniggers and smirks, I keep that to myself.
The power of words in yoga
I have found that the words spoken during a class are incredibly important to help my mind release from the analytical, calculating cells and to access a deeper, more intuitive part of my brain. Anyone who has undergone hypnotherapy or believers in Positive Mental Attitude will know what I mean. If you believe in the words, you really can envisage a higher state of being and leave your daily existence behind. If you can believe that ‘your body is filled with light’ this impossibility becomes true for you, and your reality is the only reality have, so have fun with it, I say.
I went to a class yesterday where our minds were warmed up so beautifully before we turned our attention to our bodies. Sometimes it is difficult to let your mind go and to bring it in line with your overall being during practice. As I felt my brain becoming soft and relaxed, my body changed in temperament. Perhaps I could say that my body became more accepting and less resistant, which increased my capacity for enjoyment and happiness.
The music in language and your intuitive mind
I practised yoga for years in Russia where I understood the language but not as easily as I do English. In a foreign language, you tune in to the music of the words, which is powerful in its own way. Russian is an incredibly lyrical language and their culture is very spiritual whereas English belongs in a more rational, ordered world. I found coming back to a punctuated English language class difficult to adapt to, but now that I feel the meaning of the words rather than trying to hear the music in them, I think that my practice can advance in a new and interesting way.
The original language of yoga is Sanskrit. The sound of the language conjures up a philosophical heritage very different from English. It’s interesting to hear this and let your mind slip in to the sounds.
Ashtanga Series in original Sanskrit