Yoga Changed My Life – A Manifesto For Change

This weekend was the inaugural conference on yoga in healthcare. It had me thinking. When we say, “Yoga changed my life”, what do we mean? Which aspect was it that actually shifted my state so profoundly? What is it that is so healthful and that works so deeply?

Is it the movement? Is it feeling stronger and more flexible in my body, feeling more alive? Undoubtedly!

Is it the breath, being able to control my emotions and thoughts to some small degree by using my breath. Learning that I can drop my cortisol levels and my heart rate, by using the breath – most certainly!

Is it calming the mind, learning to respond in a more socially acceptable way, in a kinder way? That helps.

Is it meditation? The knowing that there is a deep, calm space inside me where I can rest whenever I want to? For sure, this helped me a lot.

Is it the chanting, that opens the heart and sublimates emotion to devotion? Oh, this has been so blissful for me at times!

Is it the touch of the yoga teacher and the soothing voice? When are we touched without any request? When are we spoken to in comforting, gentle voice? When are we given permission to let go, to surrender to the greater good, to Mother Earth, to the guru within ourselves?

Is it the simple Namaste at the end? The light/Divine in me sees the light/Divine in you. To be Divine, to be recognised as Divine. How could we not be moved by this? To be brought into the numinous, the holy, magical and mystical part of ourselves and of life – enriching and deepening.

Or is it the effect of being told everything we want, everything we desire, is already here within us? We are already perfect. We have nothing more to be or do. This deeply peaceful state of being certainly helps.

But as I watch my ageing mother, alone and sick and my burgeoning teens go out in the world, I understand, it is the community that brings belonging, brings meaning and brings connection, which enriches their lives and places them in a meaningful space which keeps them well.

So it is for me too. The community that is committed to silent communion in truth – Sat-Chid-Ananda. This. Brings. Solace. This. Brings. Healing. This gives us permission to develop a secure attachment to ourselves and those around us sometimes for the first time in our lives.

To be surrounded by others who are dedicated to service for the greater good and who naturally see each other with an unconditional positive regard (Carl Rogers).

Most definitely. Coming into authenticity, truth, light within ourselves makes us feel complete and content. We become acutely aware when it is absent. We seek out others, who carry that light of truth, who somewhere have touched upon contentment, touched upon the lack of constant hunger to please, to desire, to need, to be acknowledged, but content in itself, can rest for a while in calm.

For me – paying attention to myself and coming into meditation is this space of calm. But more, so much more is the beauty of a group of souls together who are all resting in calm and beauty and truth. We co-regulate ourselves into this space. A greater consciousness permeates us as a group. Satsang.

This is the kernel of how yoga changed my life, it is at the centre of it all and I am constantly looking to rest in that space of satsang. A bright, light community where grasping and transaction drop away. Where just being is enough.

When yoga becomes transactional, when it becomes a product to be sold, when it moves into spheres where these actions are normal, we need to remain strong and remain in our satsang in order to not fall into this group thought of hunger and grasping. How do we do that?

By strengthening our bonds with each other in satsang, in trust and support, having each other’s back, recognising again and again tat twam asi (I am that, we are one). Standing together in love.

“They live in wisdom who see themselves in all and all in them, who have renounced every selfish desire and sense craving tormenting the heart.” (Bhagavad Gita 2:54)