In reflecting upon students over the years who attend yoga classes, workshops, and trainings, I recognize them as fellow seekers. Yoga students are seeking something; sometimes something concrete such as more stamina or flexibility in their bodies, or something more ineffable . . . a connection to something bigger or deeper.
Recently I found myself contemplating an image of yoga as an "i" (internal) GPS. Let me explain.
There is much in the 8-limbed path that helps us return to our true Selves, that deep place of bliss and connection with all that lies at the center. Some students practice and study all of the 8-limbs: restraints (yamas), observances (niyamas), postures (asana), breathing practices (pranayama), sensory mastery (pratyahara), concentration (dharana), meditation (dhyana), and Bliss (Samadhi). Some concentrate on one or two limbs. Some use yoga as an adjunct to other physical or spiritual practices that bring them greater peace and contentment.
My greatest teacher has been the breath--being aware of it, as well as using the breath to create space and time. Remembering to take slow deep breaths anchors me in this present moment, and then again, in this present moment. The physical and mental terrain around and in me comes into better focus and perspective. I can get a "grip on myself"; I can "locate" myself.
It is said in yoga teachings that infinity rests in the space between breaths, in the space between thoughts. "Getting a grip on myself" is coming back into my body and remembering that I have the tools I need.
We speed through our lives with our heads out leading the way. Taking a deep breath, a series of deep breaths, allows my awareness to infuse my whole self. I can scan my body and mind and ask, what do I need in this moment? From this united place of awareness, my brain and body make better decisions, my thoughts are clearer, my perspective is broader. It is as if I have "recalculated" my beginning and I can start again.
Sally Sugatt, LICSW, C-IAYT