I have been practising yoga for over 30 years and it always feel like I am standing on the tip of an iceberg looking at the vastness of all that is still hidden under the water, still to learn and experience.
I am far from being a yoga expert and muddle through parenting (25 years), partnership (20 years) and being a good human being (lifetime). I don’t always get it right but I keep on going, one foot in front of the other. And that’s what I try to demonstrate to Umina Beach Yoga students. Keep it real, don’t worry about being perfect, focus on doing what you can with the wisdom and resources you have in the moment. Then let it go. Be present and relax!
Patanjali, the ancient sage who wrote a text 2,000 years ago that defines our understanding of yoga today, talks about this in the ‘Three Pillars’ of yoga: Tapas, Swadhyaya and Ishwarapranidana.
Tapas is discipline, it’s the effort and restraint that we need to develop in order to keep walking the yogic path. From keeping up our daily practice to behaving ethically, Tapas is the burning effort that keeps us putting one foot in front of the other.
Swadhyaya is self reflection. It’s the process of observing how we think, feel and act but without analysing, judging or justifying what we observe. It’s doing what you can with the wisdom and resources of the moment.
Ishwarapranidana is an act of surrender. It’s recognising that, ultimately, we don’t have control over the outcomes of our actions. We do the best we can and then let go because we can’t control the results.
Practicing Tapas, Swadhyaya and Ishwarapranidana helps us stay present to where we are right now, and be just fine with whatever that is. There’s no need to put your life hold until that mythical future time when you’ve mastered everything.
Historically, as humans beings we love an idol, someone or group to follow and ‘believe in’. Some yoga teachers like to be seen as a guru or spiritual leader. Personally I am very wary of anyone who calls or thinks of themselves as a guru. Even if a teacher has hundreds of diplomas and decades of experience, that does not make them a guru. The real teacher is the yoga practise itself. Let’s keep it real.
Stay in touch with your child-like curiosity and wide-eyed nature. Listen well. Stay open to learning and be your own guru.