My teacher Hamish Hendry told us one day "Look after your practice and the practice will look after you".
Whether doing a 15 mins practice before breakfast, 10 minutes before going to sleep or visiting group sessions several times a week, yoga can provide feelings of wellness, lift moods and change your headspace. My recommendation would be to have a small daily routine at home in addition to visiting certain group sessions which can complement what you are working with. This is because it's important to look at yourself alone and process things which may be unresolved using the practice. It is also essential to get inspiration from group energy and to obtain more ideas which can feed into your own practice.
Yoga is for everyone
Yoga has no restrictions. It can be blended into different religions, cultures and traditions. There is no age limit, ability limit and everyone is welcome to experience yoga in various forms. There is no single blanket way to practice yoga, it is adaptable to each person's unique lifestyle and needs.
I have noticed that students are becoming more curious about the philosophy and history of yoga. When your practice starts maturing and you can feel the multifaceted benefits of yoga on and off the mat, it's natural to want to learn the roots and background of these ancient teachings.
How did yoga start?
Yoga is an ancient practice, we don't know when it really began, but scholars say that the concepts and ideas hatched when the ascetics from different traditions gathered in the forests. They were trying to find answers to the key questions of being human. This movement is called "The Śramana movement", around 800-600BCE towards the end of the Vedic period.
It was an important time for the birth of iconic spiritual traditions such as Buddhism and Jainism along with Classical Yoga as later defined by Patanjali Yoga Sutras.
Before the Śramana movement, there was already some evidence that ancient people recognised "breath" and "mind" being closely linked, and that "prana/energy" circulates with breath. This can mean how we breathe influences how energy flows in our body and how we feel in our mind.
Yoga can alter how we feel
We all know what it's like to think bad thoughts and almost immediately our chest tightens up, breathing becomes difficult and toxic feelings in the body and mind develop. But as soon as we do some yoga practice, we feel better. There is science behind all of this and yoga cleverly taps into it, however, it becomes complete when practical, scientific sides of yoga are mixed with the ancient metaphysical concepts.
Ancient yogis advocated many ideas both practical and spiritual to explore human potential, and they were well aware of mental "dis-ease" from the beginning of the time. All humans suffer from various mental conditions - anxiety, stress, doubts and dissatisfaction. Yoga provides remedies for human conditions, and also shows ways to elevate our consciousness. Actually this part of the practice was particularly important to ancient yogis.
Just like anything, yoga will continue to evolve but the elixir from the ancient teachings will be carried into the future because a lot of what ancient people were concerned about, we are still dealing with today.
I feel honoured to be one of the yoga messengers and I am excited to keep sharing all things yoga with you on and off the mat. Please reach out, let's practice together and talk about yoga.