If knowledge is power, self knowledge is freedom and freedom is our nature. Anything else is limiting illusion that we bring upon ourselves - Vedanata
The fourth of the niyamas (personal observances) from Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras simply translates as self -study. In yoga this is a much deeper layered meaning of discovering yourself through the practice.
Yoga is a practice of moving and breathing. I have no problem stepping on my mat. I love to practice. I practice asanas as often as I can. It’s part of my day. Yoga Off The Mat takes it to the next level. It’s about bringing the awareness from physical practice into every moment, into our minds and thoughts so we can live every moment from a higher vibe of humility, kindness and calmness. It’s about living our yoga practice. I started the Yoga Of The Mat training with Marie Russel in June 2019. Having studied with Marie and Its Yoga International on a number of occasions, I trusted her guidance and approach.
Yoga is a Journey of the Self, through the Self to the Self (Bhagavad Gita)
Grounded in A Course in Miracles, Yoga Of The Mat is a series of tools, observations, reflections and practices that incorporate yoga practice, mindfulness, meditation, journaling. Before working progressively through these tools, I was encouraged to explore my values and purpose, using them to peel back the layers of beliefs, conditionings, the should haves, the would haves and settling with what remains – the possibilities and potentials.
“Study thy self, discover the divine” Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra 2.4
Yoga Off The Mat means looking at the hard stuff and doing something about it. Marie makes it very simple ‘Are you ready to let it go?’ That’s all it takes – be ready and do the work. This journey took me to uncomfortable places, I had to stop and observe my habitual tendencies and patterns. I had to develop a sense of detachment, honesty and humility because facing myself was difficult. By applying the Yoga Of The Mat tools and under Marie’s guidance I learned that by allowing stuff to surface, acknowledging them, taking responsibility, it is possible to connect the head and heart with spirit (or truth or the universe – however you view the greater energy). Suddenly we reach a stage where letting things go suddenly becomes possible and moving from a place of peace seems like the most normal flow of life's energy.
Listen to the silence...it speaks (Rumi)
It is essential on this journey to take some time to be alone, to be truthful with yourself and observe without any judgment on every area of your life - the good stuff and the stuff that isn't working. This time and reflection helps discover your values, your passions, the qualities that are important to you. It is a journey to awakening, to a level of consciousness that we often miss when we are living our lives and running from one place to another, always doing and not giving ourselves time to be.
For me it was important to take time out daily to be still and find my own way. During this time, I walked, I meditated, I journalled. This time was sometimes peaceful and quiet and other times, unsettling as worries, resentments and hurts surfaced, but this is the first level of the work, to allow the experiences to surface without judgment or further resentments and learn to let them go.
By Practice You Realise Your Being (Vedanta)
What I loved about the course was the online connection with like-minded beautiful people from around the globe. Ultimately, we all want the same things, a connection with ourselves, with others, with a higher being, but our stories and journeys are as unique as we are as individuals.
After a year of Yoga Of The Mat - I found my voice – this is the first blog in over three years. What have I learned? I’ve learned that only I can do the work. I’ve a long way to go before I reach full enlightenment and self-knowledge but Yoga of the Mat is more than results. It is about moment to moment experiences, shining a light on the dark stuff and healing. The magic is the journey, the progress and the learning. ‘Inner standing’ as Marie calls it. Finding your inner-self and living in alignment with the truth of who you are so you can become fully present, find compassion in every moment. This is the practice and this is the work.