I guess at some level I have always been a yogi, it’s just that I did not know it at the time. I associated my youthful and determined exploration of the mystical as me just being a bit different. For me yoga is the science of resolving our ‘longing to belong’; that sense of separation that calls on us to find the truth of ourselves.
My ‘yogic tipping point’ happened many years ago now, while I was on an intensive Buddhist retreat. I had been practising Buddhist style meditation for many years. I was entering into deeper and deeper meditative states when I heard a very clear inner voice say ” you need to do yoga”. Now, when this kind of thing happens you question yourself, “did that just happen?”; and as I had that doubt, I heard it again “you need to do yoga”.
Now this was not following the script, the Buddha was getting the marketing wrong; why was he pushing yoga in the middle of a Buddhist retreat. But that’s the beauty of truth it just is.
When I left the retreat a series of synchronicities quickly unfolded that resulted with me sitting on a yoga mat! After the class I was blown away – I was left wondering what had just happened and I wanted more; it was my first Kundalini yoga class, the rest his history.
Kundalini yoga is my foundation; for me it is a masterful synthesis of yogic techniques that is more than the “sum of its parts”. Kundalini yoga kriyas are a powerful catalyst for transformation. There are 1000s of Kriyas that can be practised that relate to all aspects of life – from developing intuition to helping you sleep at night.
Yogi Bhajan (the founder of kundalini yoga) was a master, his teachings were a channelled wisdom that required the student to initiate themselves; it did not matter whether you were experienced, spiritual or religious the invitation was open to all to become a leader of their own life – through yogic wisdom.
That said, I love all forms of yoga – but I do think Ashtanga and Scaravelli yoga offer very good angles. Ashtanga is dynamic and disciplined; the repetition of sequence is a pathway to mastery; its dynamic nature powerfully opens the body. Scaravelli for me offers awakening and self-confrontation in a very different way, it is about tuning into your body, accepting it and allowing it to guide you – I have learned much through this practice.
Intuitive, confronting and awakening.
My favourite place to practice is my home; it’s the same spot everyday and nothing fancy. When you practice in one place over a period of time that location develops a remembrance of your intention and builds in energy; as a result by just sitting there you benefit from the hours, days, years of practice that have preceded it.
A moment of such overwhelming love that you cannot hold on to it; it ‘fills the cup’ and there is no choice but for it to overflow! In that moment I realised what true service or giving came from, it was an outpouring inspired by true self experience something that cannot be taught or learned; only discovered. It is from this moment that I decided to teach.
Morning Sadhana is the most consistent source of strength and inspiration in my life. Life throws you so many challenges; on some days you may not know how you will get through it. In those moments the supportive habit I cultivated over many years of yoga practice serves me. I have my cold shower, I get on my mat and I start. It has never failed to lift me – I remain in awe of the consistency of the divine coming through for me; just by offering my commitment and intention to the highest aspect of me.
We have a saying in kundalini yoga – when the time is upon you start and the pressure will be off. I think we have a habit of feeling we are not ready, but when it comes to a question of serving our soul or spirit you are ready. How can you not be ready to take a step that will enrich your life? The universe wants you to win and it is in my experience that the world brings you the experiences that you are ready for. Yes you are going into the unknown and that is what life is about, it is about learning and growing. If you bring your innocence and your intention to do your best you somehow are covered in very beautiful ways. People often realise gifts they have in areas of their life that they have never thought possible.
When I started yoga – I was not very flexible at all; sitting cross legged was not comfortable – but for me it was never about getting more bendy (that happened as a side effect) it was always about exploring the truth of things – my advice is to just go for it, keep your sense of humour and feel you deserve to be there – yoga is not about being perfect.
For every Man there is a quest that needs to be realised – a journey of discovery that every man longs for, be it in a conscious or unconscious way. Yoga is an amazing way to fulfil this inner yearning to understand our place and purpose in life.
Yoga is not just about flexibility or posture, we need to consider shifting the marketing of yoga from people in amazing postures to people living effective fulfilling lives, I feel this practical aspect of yoga is resonant for men. Whether you are a city worker, tradesman, father etc. yoga offers so much for men in how to deal with life. At their core men seek to be successful; of value and creative. Yogic lifestyle offers wisdom in the field of our intimate relationships, mental and physical health, life purpose and much more.
‘The Mind – its projections and facets’ by Yogi Bhajan and Gurucharan Singh. You have to read it to believe it. It’s a brilliant way to understand how our minds work and how different meditations impact us. The book is highly informative while being wonderfully practical.