In November 2022, someone indirectly voiced concerns that they felt that certain elements of spirituality were missing in my yoga class. However, it were exactly these elements that led them to experience happiness. Unfortunately, they did not elaborate further.
As a reaction, a part inside me lost its passion and my mind started bugging me with an endless number of pseudo-spiritual and “spiritual bypassing’ concepts”. Those who carefully and conscientiously observe the “yoga industry”, knows about the endless amount of activities, gurus and trends resembling these concepts.
After a couple of days I fortunately felt the enlightening inspiration to write and clarify for myself why I repeatedly choose to teach exactly what I teach.
A practical message that embraces spirituality
This essay is an attempt to put into words what exactly reflects my approach and understanding of spirituality in my yoga teachings. It is an attempt to guide the reader in understanding how I express my perception and sense of spirituality in yoga posture practice.
The word spirituality is rooted in the word spirit. Speaking of my spirituality I can ask myself targeted questions that contextualise this.
How can we get in contact with spirit? How does spirit reach us? How can I arrange experiencing spirit with my physical being and mental presence? I came up with the following whereby I succeeded to put feelings into thoughts that are made up of words.
The heart and the nervous system
Spirit comes to me when I am able to open my heart. I need to be able to get in contact with my heart by feeling it so that it can express itself. This is intrinsically linked to a well-functioning, receptive and resilient nervous system. The nervous system enables me to transform emotions that hinder me to feel and open my heart so that it can express itself freely (e.g. fear, frustration, guilt, shame), into emotions that are the prerequisites for it (e.g. love, appreciation, joy, happiness, passion, vitality).
A healthy nervous system is rooted in my level of awareness and, above all, on its continuous expansion. We can slowly but steadily coach ourselves in this direction by recognising the feeling that we are a part of the whole. That only within this whole can we heal and feel wholesome. That everything that surrounds us contributes to our sense of being and experience of life, self-responsibility and our ability to connect with other beings in a non-judgemental and uncompromising way.
I learnt by experience that words will not lead the way out of the darkness. Awareness is able to do so, but only, if it rests on a stable and uncompromising foundation which can lead to a profound experience of embodiment.
This exactly is the fundamental idea of my yoga teachings. It is all about feeling, recognising, experiencing, becoming aware, adjusting in response to sensations in the body, self-care, self-love and the ability to unite in our physicality with the energetic reality and charges that surround us.
Trust, surrender and presence
My understanding of yoga is aligned with what I mentioned above: a healthy nervous system and the ability to trust and surrender and simply be present what is and in the present moment. It opens the door for tranquility and serenity to touch the heart, sometimes even catalysed by the breath.
I don’t know of any manual that solely rests on verbal guidance. I learnt to trust the leitmotiv “the body as an instrument of consciousness”.
Everybody’s process is unique. Some people recognise over time that they feel different and their sense of self has changed. Others come to the conclusion that the gradual physical change based on a regular yoga practice brought about a change of consciousness. Others will probably experience life deeper than before. And then we welcome the students who simply appreciate to practice yoga in a group or in my presence in private classes for the unfolding of their physicality, or the slow and safe transition into calmness and “being”.
I am not easily satisfied with ‘plain vanilla’ concepts. It took me 18 years to formulate the above.
I know that there are many people who recognise and appreciate the spiritual dimension of my life and teaching. Some of them are grateful for the inspiration and often very intuitive contribution that flows into our mutual exchange.
Living my spirituality is knowing of spirit and living it through embodiment. Everything related to yoga and (self)healing that I have accomplished in the last 20 years, most of it at Yogashala, proves exactly that.