By David Meyer
Yoga offers ways to establish a life of balance and transformation.
Yoga is becoming more and more popular in the West and continues to grow and evolve. If the title of this column caught your eye, this physio-spiritual practice has likely caught your attention in some capacity.
My name is David Meyer, and I recently finished a 250-hour yoga-teacher training in Classical yoga at The Yoga Life Institute in Devon. Though the pixels of a webpage hardly seem like the ideal ashram (the place in which Hindu cultural practices are studied and mastered), I hope to use a bi-weekly column to provide college students (who are spread thin among life, work demands, and educational requirements) with some practices that might help them gain balance and enhance their school and life experience. In the training of Classical yoga, emphasis is placed on the fact that yoga is not just about poses, or asana, that you see practiced in the many homes, gyms, studios, and ashrams around the world which host yoga classes. In Yogic Way, I will place as much attention on the poses, as I do on the many other modalities of Classical yoga, including, but not limited to: meditation, pranayama (or breath work), intersection (or journey inward), and ahimsa (or non-violence).
There are two disclaimers I would like to make before we go any further: (a) yoga is not a religion and (b) you do not have to be flexible to do yoga. Yoga is found in some religions; however religion is not in yoga. Many people say that they cannot try yoga because they are not flexible enough. That would be like not going to the doctor because you are sick!
Yoga is many things: a scientific art, a progressive system, a spiritual technology, a means to personal liberation, and an evolving scaffold for personal transformation. With an open-mind and the willingness to get out of your comfort zone, the practice of yoga will create a more flexible lifestyle and body overtime. But most of all, yoga will cultivate a calmer mind.
I came to yoga in the midst of my own personal transformation a little over four years ago. Personally, yoga has built the spiritual infrastructure that enables me to navigate life from a healthy, wholesome, and evolving perspective. Prior to yoga I lived life in a constant state of fear, attachment, and craving. I was continuously desperate for the next external stimuli in the form of drugs, money, sex, and approval that would enable me feel better, albeit only temporary. I was defined by my achievements (of which I had few), as well as by my material possessions and the acceptance of others. My habitual state of discontent continued to perpetuate suffering. I hit what most people call rock-bottom, but would be better described as an abysmal pit and I wallowed in the muck on the bottom for several years. After a course of events, I landed myself exactly where I needed to be. I was spiritually, mentally, emotionally, physically, and financially bankrupt. In rehab I experienced my first yoga class. I also had a monument of clarity that would ignite the flame necessary for transformation.
I come to find out there is a fire within us that has the ability to transform our lives, present in the third chakra, located in the solar plexus region of the body, which kindles the willingness necessary for change.
As a way of commencing on our journey to some daily sanity and improved health (if not a spiritual awakening), I invite you to find a comfortable seated position. Take a nice deep breath, in through the nose, to the count of four. Pause at the top of your breath; then begin exhalation through the mouth, completely, accentuating the respiration with a sigh. Feel the essence of the words “letting go.” From our conscious exhalation the fruits of our practice will emerge.
Namaste, my friends.