Yoga is Far More than What We See Nowadays

Singapore — October 2017 ©

Singapore, October 2017,

Standing in Sirsasana (headstand), 22 meters above the ground, surrounded by the panoramic vistas of the Gardens by the Bay and Marina Bay skyline in the red dot (a.k.a Singapore), I felt strong, powerful, confident, and fearless.

Even when one of the security guards at the Garden by the Bay informed me I was breaking the law, “Ma’am, you’re not allowed to do this here!” I was still beaming. The security officer couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. I did it! And I felt a bit proud of my little achievement. I overcame a fear I had and it meant a lot. Funny thing is, a few years back when I walked on this same bridge for the very first time, I was a little scared, moving slowly, one step at a time, holding the handrails each and every time I felt uncomfortable.

But this time, I was standing upside down. How cool was that?

Little did I know when I was making this small infringement on that hanging bridge — in the city some people remember as the “fine city” — that I was falling into the trap of showing off, that I was held by the grip of “yoga exhibitionism.”

Yoga exhibitionism is a kind of insidious disease that strikes you once you believe you have started to master a few “difficult” asanas (physical postures). That disease, that virus — unlike the Coronavirus — irresistibly compels you to go outside and show to the world “Yes! I am a bendy and flexible person, and I can do amazing things with my body.”

Shortly after my trip to Singapore, I went to Chiang Mai, Thailand. Over there, I was fortunate enough to learn and discover Classical / Traditional Yoga, and it completely turned my mind upside down. I didn’t need any headstand for that. I discovered that yoga was not only about physical postures. Yes, you read it! This revelation completely shifted my perspective. Actually, yoga is a system of spiritual pursuit with a physical component (and not the other way around). The typical perception of yoga today is that it is merely a physical system, another exercise program available on YouTube videos. Yoga has been reduced to clichés with one aspect of it often believed to be all of yoga.

We are living in very interesting times. These are times of confusion and uncertainty but also the most creative of any time in the history of mankind. These are times of the growing popularity of yoga — even though it may be transmitted in a distorted way. However, these are also great times to rediscover what could be considered the oldest self-improvement tool.

Today, the orgasmic pleasure I derive from yoga does not come from perfecting a pose (nope!) but from applying the concepts of yoga and realizing some things about myself. It is also not obtained from drinking a green tea kombucha, dressing up like a spiritual hippie, or posting some nice pictures along with a thoughtful quote from a random wise person (even I do that!). Rather, it is attained by consciously making an effort to be grateful, loving, inclusive, respectful, and non-reactive, all while acting like a grounded adult. That’s not an easy task but one worth all the effort in the world.

Things being as they are, many people are going to yoga classes to get a nice workout. They practice a few times a week to relax, increase flexibility, or stay in shape. This is the majority rule phenomenon. While nothing is wrong with fitness and health, I wish to emphasize that they are simply not the final objectives of traditional yoga. Yoga is much more than physical practice. It is a way of living that goes far beyond breathing exercises and postures.

Hear me out — nowhere in the history of humanity has anyone put a gun to someone’s head and said, “You must do yoga” or “You must do this particular type of yoga.” I believe in an individual’s inherited ability to find the truth for him/herself. There is no doubt that postures and exercises are part of yoga. It is indisputable that there are great yoga instructors out there who constitute wonderful entry points into the vastness of what yoga is.

However, as the world is changing rapidly, since it is hard to ignore the increasing impact of technology and artificial intelligence on our daily life, I believe it is time now to turn toward the most complex and fantastic machine in existence: the human body, the human mind.

The time has come to ponder on the most important question you could ever ask: what does it mean to be human?

I have been asking myself this question and it helped me in my day-to-day yoga off the mat experiment. Yoga helped me to grow as a human being while I was away from my mat. Presently “my yoga” is in everything. It is in every move I make, every interaction I have, every bond I break, every breath I take… (Yes, I get inspired by The Police, easier than Despacito ;)

What I want to say: every single day, every single minute, all that I do is yoga. As such, this yoga is for everyone: for the bendy and the stiff bodies, for the youngsters and the elderly, for the physicals and the intellectuals, for the believers and the atheists.

What is important to keep in mind is that the practice of yoga doesn’t begin and end on the yoga mat. You may be able to rock a three-minute headstand, but can you maintain that same balance in other aspects of your life? Truth be told, even if you don’t practice asana, you can still be considered as a yogi as long as you own your internal world. In fact, you may already be practicing yoga without even realizing it.

I believe the new yogis of the world are the ones who are fitted to sleep with the same equanimity on the bed of a five-star hotel or on a bed created with several layers of yoga mat; they are ones who are aware of their fears and not ruled by them; and they are the ones who can remain serene in the middle of a storm.

Since starting my yoga journey, I never felt capable of expressing what drove me toward this philosophy. I’m excited today to announce that I’m ready. I’m ready to serve that small number of you who have come to see that yoga is far more than what we generally see these days. I’m ready to disclose all those things that have changed me and made me the person I am today: calm, composed, focused, and fearless.

Thanks for reading. If you liked this piece, please help me out by clicking the clap button below ❤

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I have worn many hats. But truly speaking, I am best at being myself, without any label. Sharing personal growth insights and my life experience.

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Anouchka Blessed

Anouchka Blessed

I have worn many hats. But truly speaking, I am best at being myself, without any label. Sharing personal growth insights and my life experience.

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