by Heather Indu Arena
There has been a rise in excitement and enthusiasm over the physical, mental and emotional benefits of practicing yoga. The number of Yoga studios have tripled in our local communities and Namaste has become a household word. Practitioners are reaping the benefits of healthier bodies, calmer minds and more peaceful and joyful expressions in daily life.
However, as yoga would teach us, for every positive there is a negative. More people have reported experiencing injuries during yoga classes possibly due to inexperienced teachers, or simply because they pushed themselves too hard to get into that picture-perfect yoga pose. Practitioners are finding that often their body simply can’t go deeper into the traditional poses they have been practicing. Those who are only exposed to the newer Western style of yoga based on flexibility and strength, who find they are unable to physically perform the poses, often believe that a yoga practice is not meant for them. They completely miss out on receiving the amazing benefits available to every-body. So, where does that leave yoga?
For every trend there is a beginning, middle and end. Is yoga approaching the end of its tenure? From the perspective of this experienced practitioner and teacher, we have only just begun exploring what yoga really is. We have viewed yoga through the lenses of our Western culture and thus adapted the practice to fit into that vision. The practice of Asana (yoga postures) which is a fundamental
aspect of Western yoga is, in reality, a miniscule aspect of how yoga was designed to be practiced. So, the question remains, where is yoga headed if it is going to survive in the West? To answer that, we must go back to the beginning. We must return to yoga’s roots in the East.
The beautiful thing about Eastern-based yoga practices are their accessibility to any-body. This means the inflexible and fragile can join the other 37 million Americans who practice yoga today to reclaim their health, vitality, and even freedom. The core difference between Eastern and Western yogic philosophies is that the Eastern style is an ancient time-tested science, and Western is a modern take on only a small portion of the wisdom and tools that emerged from Eastern yoga.
To fly, a bird needs both wings working together. A yoga practice based just on the physical body may create amazing yoga butt, but will not take the practitioner to the heights for which yoga was designed. The next generation of yoga in the West will not be a “one size fits all” system where everyone in the classroom is asked to do the same pose in the same way. We are all unique! We have unique bodies, unique life stories and unique personalities. Shouldn’t our yoga practice reflect that and be designed in such a way as to work within our own unique nature? Don’t our yoga students deserve to have a practice designed just for them and their unique needs as an individual seeking more balance and fulfillment in life? The answer, of course, is yes! And the good news is, those
types of yoga practices do exist.
There are Eastern based systems of yoga immerging in the U.S. that have matured from the one size fits all model to an individualized personalized practice which meets the practitioner exactly where they are physically, mentally and emotionally. What that means is a more natural yoga practice which demands a higher skill set from those teaching the class. These practices have two things in common; an emphasis on meditation, and feeling, and moving with one’s innate energetic intelligence. One such practice is called Meditation in Motion.
There has been a boom on media coverage about the new scientific evidence of the benefits of meditation for health and well-being. Eastern yogic philosophy knew this first-hand thousands of years ago and incorporated meditation into the practice of yoga itself. Science now also states that all things are made of energy. Right now your heart is beating based on a specialized energetic system in your body. Wouldn’t it be amazing if you could access the same energy that is automatically allowing your heart to beat, your blood to clot when you have a cut, and your food to digest, and allow you to reach higher degrees of physical, mental and emotional healing? Well, you can. And again, ancient yogis knew this secret and incorporated into the practice.
Modern day Eastern yogic practices use meditation as a tool to enter a calm state of mind which allows practitioners to access their natural energetic intelligence. Because the body and mind are connected, this is a simple yet sophisticated way to maintain balanced, healthy bodies while effortlessly stepping outside of fruitless programmed mental/emotional habits and behaviors thereby allowing new and renewed solutions in life to effortlessly emerge.
Where physical flexibility ends, physical, mental, and emotional balance and peace of mind begins. Western yoga will survive the ebb from the first wave of popularity if it matures and evolves by returning to its roots in the East. A yoga practitioner does not need to travel to India to receive the maximum benefits from the practice. They only need to be courageous enough to travel through the darkness of personal fears and limitations to the Light present at core of their own being. Eastern based yoga practices provide a personalized and individualized passage to the limitless awareness you are. The more you visit this calm and harmonious internal dwelling, the more you will see those qualities materialize in your everyday life.
Heather Indu Arena supports the continued education of the Eastern Yoga traditions as a Senior Yoga Trainer for I AM Yoga® Meditation in Motion. In addition she has created an online course called “Exploring the Yoga of Energy an Introduction to Meditation in Motion” to help yoga practitioners and teachers discover the roots of yoga in order to deepen their practice so yoga can transform their lives. Her mission is Empowering individuals to live healthy, vital, and fulfilling lives from their authentic Self through holistic education and services. For more information visit her website: healingelementsforyou.com.