15 Jan Is your yoga practice making a difference? Donna Farhi brings yoga to life.
“Life does not become easier, we become easier with life as it is.”
Donna Farhi uses story, metaphor and ancient Indian texts to show us how what we do on the yoga mat relates to how we are in the world.
Rather than our dedicated asana and meditation practices yielding a blissed out state of rosy perfection, Farhi describes how our newfound clarity of mind actually helps us to become more adaptive to the natural and varied richness of life and, as a result, contribute more to the lives of everyone we care about.
Book title: Bringing Yoga to Life
About the author: Donna Farhi has been teaching yoga since 1982. She has written a number of books, including The Breathing Book and Yoga for Women, that help students from all traditions embody their spiritual experience.
Publisher: Harper Collins 2003
We all begin somewhere
Farhi has more than 30 years of experience seeing beginner yogis come to the mat. These beginners very often arrive at their first class with hopes of learning to relax or heal a physical injury.
When we later discover there is more to yoga than what we realised it doesn’t mean we were disillusioned. Asana practice has given us the health, self-awareness and focus to see ourselves and the world more clearly.
Our relationship with yoga has deepened.
Pilates v stretching v yoga: it all depends on your intention
The same shapes you make in a yoga asana class are found in dance studios and exercise classes everywhere. But you can recognise the difference between reaching for your toes to stretch, and folding forward into Paschimottanasana.
It might not come easily into words, but it’s obvious when you (or the person next to you in headstand) is doing yoga and when they’re doing something else.
Know you are there for yoga and the quality of that intention shines through.
Abdominal work in service of others
Bringing Yoga to Life takes us on a gentle path to towards understanding that it’s only yoga if we do it for something more than ourselves.
Take delight in getting the feet off the floor in your arm-balances – and find joy for the person next to you mastering a pose you would never imagine possible for yourself.
Work at your own pace – and let that teach you compassion for the struggler in the back corner.
Test out on the yoga mat how you wish to be for the world.
There are four “qualities of heart [that] can help us make the necessary link between our personal practice and the universal application and consequence of that practice.”
These are the Four Brahmivihara, from the first chapter of Patanjali’s 2500 year old Yoga Sutras (and also found in Buddhism):
- Friendliness towards the joyful
- Compassion for those who are suffering
- Celebrating the good in others
- Remaining impartial to the faults and imperfections of others
Is your practice making a difference?
You are stronger, calmer and more self-aware because of your yoga practice. Bring Yoga to Life by asking:
“Is yoga practice building my integrity as a human being?”