This morning I got a call from a friend of a friend, whom I haven’t seen in a few years. She asked me whether I was as toned and fit in real life as I was on my Instagram photos, and whether my yoga poses were real or was I faking them? I was not sure whether to take it as a compliment or as an insult. I reassured her that I was real, and so were my poses and my photos. She then started to question me about what type of yoga gave me such good results, and by good results she meant weight-loss. For a moment I did hesitate to advise her with ‘Bikram Yoga’, because it is practiced in a heated room, thus if done on a regular basis it can eventually lead to weight-loss. But then I changed my mind, and decided to be as direct with her a she was with me. I told her that yoga is a concept of finding harmony within and not a magic fat dissolver. It can maybe eliminate excess negative vibes, but not excess fat. Hence, I advised her to skip yoga, get her lazy booty on a treadmill and start jogging. Because if one’s goal is to lose weight, I don’t see how avoiding heavy cardio could be a solution.
Her approach to yoga reminded me of myself 12 years ago, when I tried it for the first time. I found it tedious and ridiculously boring. I was looking at my watch every five minutes waiting for the class to end. The teacher was not bad, I was just not ready for it. I thought to myself: “Why call it yoga when it’s really just a long class of monotonous and static stretching?”. However, when I found the courage to try it again later on, two years ago, that is when I had my “aha!” moment. I was finally ready. I was in yoga. Why did yoga finally make sense to me? Because I was in a full awakening phase. I was questioning life. I was learning how to pray. My challenges were no longer : ambition, conquest, and self-absorbed proof of material success. Finding a perfect boyfriend, getting a raise, and buying an apartment were no longer a longing. My longing was for the UNKNOWN, the INVISIBLE, the HARMONIOUS, and the SPIRITUAL. It was a longing for CONSCIOUSNESS itself. And that is what yoga is. It is the “science of being in perfect alignment, in absolute harmony, and in complete sync with existence”.
So when people ask me whether it is yoga that helped me lose extra weight and tone up, I reply that it was yoga that helped me manifest my fullest potential. In which case, weight loss, toning up, clearing up my skin, and simply being happy on a daily basis are all part of the equation. Because when I’m in yoga, I feel empowered. I feel in control of my emotions, my thoughts and my actions. Which impacts directly my eating habits and lifestyle choices. Enabling me to say no to alcohol, meat, nights out and couch potato lifestyle. Of course I still party and splurge on junk food from time to time, but when I do, I do it consciously, knowing the consequences that it will have on my body and on my health. To sum it up, when I’m in yoga, I’m able to fine-tune myself with the cosmos to such a point that everything functions beautifully within me, and my best abilities flow naturally out of me. I feel inspired, full of energy and in tune with my emotions.
Hence, if your current life goals are pursuing a successful career, finding the perfect mate, or buying the car of your dreams, then stop right there. Do not try yoga. Even if you have the best acrobatic skills in the world and do backbends as a hobby, that does not make you ready for yoga. Because yoga is more than just bone-bending and contortionism. It is the unity of MIND, BODY and ENERGY. It is finding harmony with the universe. It is “to be joyful and peaceful within yourself every moment of your life, and to be able to perceive life beyond its physical limitations.” (Sadhguru, 2016) Although, if you want a definition which is more concise and straight to the point, then here is one by Eric Paskel, an internationally renowned yoga teacher and wellness advocate: “Yoga is not about tightening your ass. It is about getting your head out of it.” So if getting your head out of your ass sounds attractive enough, then yoga is the way to go. It will make you question your lifestyle choices, your goals, your compulsions and your awareness. It will inspire you to get in touch with your soul – with that dimension of yourself that goes beyond intellect, judgement and karma. It will guide you towards creating the right conditions for your body and your mind to function properly. And all of the stress and the excess fat that prevents you from feeling serene, it will melt away naturally. Because you will be making choices that nurture every aspect of your being, instead of sabotaging it.