Some of you know that I have recently embarked on a new learning pathway, which is a formal Graduate Certificate of Yoga Therapy. I’ve glibly said that this is for the purpose of developing my knowledge and skills at utilising the many ‘tools’ of yoga in a therapeutic context.
What do I mean by this really?
YOGA as a noun = a state of unification on all levels of being – body, mind & heart. Oneness.
YOGA as a verb = all the things we can do to bring us into that state of unification.
The aim of yoga, therefore, is to use the ’tools’ we have available to us – body, breath, mental processes, awareness, concentration, use of senses, meditation, chanting, visualisation, etc – to bring us into a balanced state of optimal health on all levels so that we can realise the fullest of our potential in this lifetime.
This may sound like a lofty aim, but what more worthy pursuit could there ultimately be? Modern science acknowledges this multi-dimensional approach these days with reams of evidence-based research showing the intimate connections between our mental, physical and emotional processes. This is something that has always been a keystone approach of yoga, which ultimately is a science of self-development.
The exciting thing about this course of study now is the coupling of ancient approaches and techniques with modern scientific approaches and research. So much can be ‘measured’ now, providing ‘proof’ of the effects of various techniques to enhance health, calm specific disturbances of the mental body including anxiety and stress, relief of depressive states of mind, lifting of mood generally. MRIs have shown the effect that the quietness and stillness of meditation has on the brain, reducing the production of stress hormones, and elevating the production of the ‘feel-good’ hormones.
I have embarked on this new course of study to underline much of the reading, further study and practice that I have engaged in over the past two decades, and to develop my understanding around applying these yogic tools to specific and individual circumstance. No two people are alike, and in that sense, a yoga class can only offer a space for people to come together and follow along, staying as present as possible, utilising the body, breath, and mindfulness approaches to generate some degree of shift in energy. This shift always occurs in a yoga class to at least some degree, yet there is so much more available when approaching these practices on a personal individual level.
I’m excited to be back in a formal learning environment again and you can expect to be hearing about some of the things I’m learning – I always seek to practice what I preach after all! So my teaching is often a reflection of what I’m exploring in my own daily practice, as this is the way I make sense of things – by doing them myself and noticing the effects.
In this way I am my own scientific laboratory, as we each are. So here’s to the ever-broadening path of self-study, which is a foundational aspect of the state of YOGA, and just a great way to live life fully!