01 February 2009

Yoga is the Best Therapy.

With Manju Jois - Bliss Yoga Shala, February 2008
My 3 days with Manju Jois were very cool. He led us in asana, pranayama and chanting. I expected a lot of sweat, tears and bruises but the energy in the room was way more relaxed than anticipated. He made me laugh quite a bit…and I don’t do much laughing when I practice ashtanga.

During the Q&A session with Manju, he said that “yoga is therapy.” Specifically he was explaining how asana should not be a set of rules or regulations imposed on the body, rather it is a therapeutic technique to help the body open and heal. Each level of the ashtanga system is designed to assist the body in a certain way. For example, first series is therapeutic in nature while second series focuses on nerve cleansing. In the primary series, we work on establishing a certain depth in the body so we can advance to more internal purification. I knew these things from my yoga teacher training, but I think I had become a bit complacent in my practice and I lost this sense of feeling as if my yoga practice was therapy. I would come to the mat and do my practice as if it was this regimen I had created for myself. Like following a certain diet or paying taxes, it was something I had to do in order to not be delinquent with the regulatory institution located in my mind. Ashtanga is the path I have chosen. I openly admit that it challenges me and I fight with it all the time however, I will learn to love ashtanga as my therapist. It questions me, nurtures me, hurts me and allows me to see deep inside myself. During my time with ashtanga, I have felt pain, love, confusion, peace, sadness, and strength. I have been stuck, made progress, hit walls, taken small steps forward and giant leaps back. It has been quite a ride and no matter what, my therapy will always be there for me.

I learned a lot from my weekend with Manju. I took away a sense of fluidity. I was reminded that I’ll never stop learning. I reaffirmed my intentions to keep studying with great teachers. I learned that it’s ok to fall and laugh at my mistakes. I want to be 65 years old and be able to jump into bakasana. I was filled with a sense of gratitude for my fellow yoga mates. I felt fortunate to witness the great lineage of the Jois family. I realized that my journey with yoga is in its infant stages and I cannot wait to discover what lies ahead.