Discovering Yourself on the Mat
With Kate Dutton
Why we decide to step onto the mat is usually different for most people. With as many reasons to start as there are styles to choose from, yoga is a sweet honey that attracts many a person. Some come to find relief from nagging injuries or flexibility in unyielding hamstrings, others to quieten the mental chatter or appease a partner who has been threatening to drag them along for years. Whatever the driving force, whichever path you travel along, yoga will lead you into a place of self-awareness and connection.
As beginners, we come to yoga with arms and legs. After practicing for a while we begin to have inner legs and outer legs, inner arms and outer arms. We begin to feel the subtleties of movement in the soles of our feet and the breath move in the sides of our body. Little by little we begin to build our self-awareness. It grows into a self-intelligence, an understanding of our own being. We start to see that our body and our mind are not separate entities but in fact in constant interaction with each other. What we do with one affects the other.
Many people begin this journey of self-discovery struggling and cursing their way through Downward Facing Dog or coaxing their stiff backs into uncomfortable forward folds. We watch our comrades around the room and try to emulate the ridiculously limber or the serenely knotted pretzel. It’s ok, we’ve all been there, we all do the same, and with time this will and does slowly change. Our body is a great place to start, it is right there in front of us and we have reasonable control over most of its appendages. We can get it onto a yoga mat and move it through a series of yoga poses; starting with the gross movements of the limbs, slowly bringing our focus from the external and encourage it to look for the internal. We may take a little time to develop this self-awareness but once you awaken the connection of mind and body, it is hard to turn back.
Perhaps you are reading and wondering if, when or even how this will happen for you. Is it a special state reserved for those in ‘the know’, those with robes, incense and holy lives? Perhaps you need a guru or to be able to get your feet behind your head? The simple answer is no. Instead, the answer is a constant invitation to be aware and awake to each moment of your life, rather than living in the drama of your past or envisaged future. There is no set path or timeframe, no right or wrong. Yoga is a wonderful place to start as it brings you in to the present moment and in to your body. It may be that as you explore the shapes on the mat, you develop a physiological awareness, a welcoming back to your body where you discover all of it’s nooks and crannies. Discover a place where you can reflect on and acknowledge your body’s strengths and those physical parts of you that need nurture and healing. Perhaps too, this dedicated time with yourself will encompass an opportunity for mental clarity, a honed awareness of the ceaseless chattering of the mind. You may begin to find moments in down dog or even in the supermarket where you are able to simply observe the traffic in your mind and stop yourself from chasing down the noisiest thought or jumping on the ups and downs of an emotional rollercoaster. Awaiting others is a spiritual awareness, a reconnection with a higher place or universal energy. Either way, you are unique and so will be your journey. Your self-awareness will not only serve to deepen your yoga practice but will also deepen your experience of everyday life.
by Kate Dutton
Kate teaches on the beginners yoga course, find her;
Monday 7.30 pm
Friday 5.30 pm
Saturday 6.30 am
Read more about our unique beginners program here