What is it to be a Yogi?

PC: @LOLOANDTHELENS

PC: @LOLOANDTHELENS

by Crystal Woodward

As the Seasonal Yoga Living Immersion I have been imagining draws closer, my mind swirls with creative potential and the imagining turns to planning and action.  What is it to be a yogi? The best place to begin is with your own unique answer to the question; why do I do yoga? To this question there are as many answers as there are shades of a human.  I want to be healthy, lose weight, be happy, heal from trauma, try something new, find peace, experience ease in my body, manage stress and so many other heartfelt desires. Eventually with dedicated and prolonged practice, I believe these intentions lead us to deeper self-awareness.  This awareness begins in our outer most layer, our physical body. If you decide to continue pursuing yoga after this first step, the second, third and subsequent steps arise naturally. These steps become the road travelled on a literal Journey to Self, consciousness and potential moments of divine enlightenment. This journey will challenge and change you, ask you to be honest with yourself and clear the lens of your perception. Would you like to be a yogi on this journey? 

In my upcoming Four-Season Immersion I will share what I have gained on this path and offer you a way to become a living yogi.  Incorporating the elements and seasons in my daily posture, self-care and meditation practices are just a few aspects of the yoga tradition that I have woven into my yogi lifestyle. The Journey to Self is a journey in working on oneself.  To be a yogi first and foremost you need a consistent physical practice. Most of us need a moment to reconnect with and step back into our bodies. This is why yoga is most commonly associated with movement and shapes. The physical movements of yoga are a doorway into awakening the body to the flow of life force energy that moves within and links each shape together in a dance. 

A daily practice gives you an opportunity to check-in each day: how do I feel?  why am I feeling that way? what choices can I make to feel different? Immersion participants will learn two short home practices to balance the energy of each of the four seasons. These home practices become a part of your self-care toolkit. For example, when you have a lot of energy a solar heat building practice may feel inviting. On other days a slower, more lunar practice may feel more appropriate.  Sometimes we just need to rest and restore and on these days we can pull in a Yin or Yoga Nidra practice. The seasons also play a role on the style of practice to which we are most drawn. We are currently in the fire element summer season. We can literally feel the heat surrounding and coming off of us. Throughout the summer months of our journey we align with the water element to support us in maintaining balance.  A fluid and playful practice will help cool and soothe the overactive fire that can lead to irritation and sharpness in our attitudes. 

Much of the self-care we do as yogis is aimed to support ourselves through the continued work of our journey.  Most of these practices are quite enjoyable, full of self-love and leave you feeling good. These self-care rituals involve diet, lifestyle choices and self-study.  Journaling about your daily life routine is a form of self-study we will explore in the Immersion. With an understanding of your typical day you can begin to slowly add practices in support of your yoga journey. For example what changes to your evening routine will support your morning practice?  Do you need to go to bed earlier, get up earlier and/or have healthier lifestyle practice to feel better in the morning? To this routine we add self-love practices like oiling the body, tongue scraping and drinking warm citrus water. I will share just a few practices each season so that you can truly integrate each of these refinements into your daily routine. Something as small as drinking warm water each morning can take time to become as natural and basic as brushing your teeth.

As yogi we get much of our self-care practices from Ayurveda, yoga’s ancient sister science.  Thousands of years ago humans ate fresh seasonal whole foods and learned which foods and herbs could be used for healing.  In our modern age of fast food, preservatives, pesticides and prescription medication, a return to this simplistic way of living can feel like quite a shift!  Throughout the Immersion we will come together and cook a whole food organic meal for each season. By sharing the meal created with our own hands and sitting and talking yoga with other yogis a community is created. We all need allies, yogi friends that understand the awakening you are going through and people to talk to about consciousness and the bumps of the journey.  Trainings and immersions are a fun way to meet like-minded new friends!    

Lastly, the doorway of posture practice may lead you to philosophy and meditation, the primary tools through which we reach for enlightenment.  There are many different ways to approach meditation. We will explore Japamala mantra meditation, walking meditation and Yoga Nidra as techniques for sitting still with yourself, clearing your mind and dive into the depths of yourself. Together as a group, and in small groups, we will discuss yoga philosophy and concepts and continue to inquire into our ourselves, our reasons for practicing and just what this yoga thing is all about!

The Seasonal Living Yoga Immersion begins October 4-6th. This Immersion will offer you a strong foundation to work from and return to again and again on your journey to Self.  Early bird registration rates for the full Four-Season Immersion as well as the single Autumn Immersion end September 6th. Full schedule details and online registration available on the Shala’s website.  Stay tuned for information about free seasonal living talks at the Shala. Ready to learn more? Questions? Email Crystal to schedule a free 20-minute conversation.