Yoga Psychology – What is Yoga?

That is a great question!

Yoga means many things to a variety of people all across the globe.

Some people might wonder how yoga can help them accomplish what they want in life and what yoga practices can they use to accomplish this?

Others may wonder what is this practice of yoga and why has it been around for so long?

Here were my limited thoughts on yoga:

  • Yoga is physical exercise with a spiritual twist because it works toward opening one’s chakras.
  • There are a range of yoga classes from rigorous Vinyasa flow classes to the gentle postures of a slow and steady Hatha class.
  • Yoga classes are for the elite, with a bit of snobbery about them. Comparison is inevitable. Who can best bend into a posture?  Who is wearing the trendiest yoga clothing? Who has traveled the furthest distance and trained under the most famous yogis to get their teacher training certificate, making them the best yoga teacher?!
  • Yoga is for serious people, because fun doesn’t seem to be part of the class – well, that depends on the yoga instructor!
  • Why does yoga have to push me to an extreme? To have me bend like a pretzel?
  • I stopped going to yoga classes because they were either too hard, too repetitive or too boring.

Here were my expanding thoughts on yoga as I studied to became a Reiki Master Teacher:

  • During my studies, I explored other forms of energy work to better understand how Reiki is a spiritually guided form of energy healing rather than our own life force energy.  I discovered yoga is a form of energy work.
  • Yoga’s foundational believe is that prana, a life-giving energy, is carried on the breath. During a yoga practice, prana is cleansed and expanded both around and throughout the body resulting in many health benefits.
  • I wondered why yoga classes I’ve attended spend so much time on poses when breathing exercises are a fundamental part of the practice too?
  • Yoga still felt more like an exercise class to me than taking the time to focus on prana, the breath and connect with our life force energy.

Here were my thoughts on yoga after I attended classes led in the Satyananda Yoga Tradition in India:

  • This was the yoga I was looking for!
  • This yoga was focused on small, gentle movements where warm-up stretches included eye movements and stretching your toes!  After the warm-up stretches there was an inspirationally guided meditation and/or a breathing exercise that focused on connecting you to your inner Divine source. Next was minimal and gentle traditional Hatha yoga poses, ending with guided relaxation.
  • The class motto was yoga should never hurt! Yoga is not a circus where you bend yourself like a gymnast! Yoga is a spiritual path of connecting spirit and body.
  • Most of the Western visiting yoga teachers and yoga enthusiasts did not like this yoga at all. They openly complained that the classes were not challenging enough.
  • The yogi’s answer to their complaints was respectful yet to the point – their Western way of yoga is not traditional yoga. One should never break out in a sweat during a yoga class because yoga is not exercise, yoga is a hotline to the Divine.
  • Let me repeat that…yoga is a hotline to the Divine.

Yoga is a Hotline to the Divine

I attended these yoga classes during my stay at Carnoustie Ayurveda & Wellness Resort.

This style of yoga fit my spiritual path as a Reiki Master Teacher.  This yoga was gentle. This yoga didn’t feel competitive, it felt compassionate because the poses were a gradual series of bends and twists that naturally led into each other. This yoga incorporated a variety of guided meditations such as chakra balancing or anatomically correct body scans as well as pranayama breathing exercises and poses. After a class, I felt connected to my body, my breath, my spirit!

It was perfect…for me! This practice of yoga would help me accomplish what I wanted in life…and that is connection to my inner Divine source while stumbling along the spiritual path.

The classes were led by an elderly yogi, Dr. V.P. Rajasekharan (Dr. Raj. for short). Dr. Raj is a direct student of Swami Satyananda Saraswati of the Bihar School of Yoga or Satyananda Yoga tradition.  Carnoustie Ayurveda & Wellness Resort - Dr. V.P. Rajasekharan (Dr. Raj. for short). Dr. Raj is a direct student of Swami Satyananda Saraswati of the Bihar School of Yoga or Satyananda Yoga tradition.  

My interest in yoga was reborn! Soon afterwards, my studies began with Dr. Raj and his Yoga for Stress Management course, practiced in the the Bihar School of Yoga or Satyananda Yoga tradition.

S, <3

About me: Stephanie Wells

I am a Reiki Master Teacher of the Usui Shiki Ryoho System of Natural Healing, attuned both in Canada and India. As well, I am a student of the Bihar School of Yoga or Satyananda Yoga tradition and teacher-in-training of Yoga for Stress Management. My yoga teacher is Dr. V.P. Rajasekharan of the Wellness Yoga Foundation and Carnoustie Ayurveda & Wellness Resort, Kerala, India.

This blog series on Yoga Psychology are my reflections of my studies while reading Practical Yoga Psychology by Dr. Rishi Vivekananda as I work towards completing my Yoga for Stress Management course.Reiki Picture - 2018 - Doha, Qatar

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