I am grateful for the Yoga Centre Winnipeg for providing me with a space to share the teachings of yoga, and also grateful for the hearty Winnipeggers that make their way to class on a daily basis despite the cold and snow.
The cheerful smiles and committed approach of all who show up demonstrate how the Yoga practice extends beyond the stretching and breathing. Whether they know it or not the individuals making their way to class are bringing Patanjali's 5 Niyamas to life!
The Niyamas are inner practices that we can cultivate in our daily lives to foster well-being and wholeness.
The 5 Niyamas are:
Tapas - fire, burning zeal, commitment to practice
Svadhayaya- studying of the teaching, as well as self study.
Ishvara pranidhana - surrender to grace, opening to our true nature.
The practice of yoga asana is traditionally viewed as a practice of purification.
The postures bring energy and awareness to places in ourselves that are often neglected or dormant in our daily life. We store emotional wounds, fears and stress in our bodies in the form of physical tensions and postural habits. By stretching, moving, breathing and feeling into these areas, the holding patterns are released. As the body relaxes and opens, thought patterns, emotions, and stored up energy can be released.
The result is we feel better!! Contentment creeps in!!
Personally, one of the biggest challenges of the cold weather, is the tendency to tense up against the feeling of cold- as my body tenses, my thoughts and feelings shift to a negative bias! However, it only takes a few minutes connecting with the breath and moving the body to drop the holding and move into a positive space! It's so powerful, and so simple.
When I feel that shift, I remember that the tensing and the emotions and thoughts attached to it, are not me, they are states that change like the weather. I am reminded that my happiness is not defined by the weather outside, or the weather within - this too shall pass!
Yoga gives us the tools to make the shift from feeling frozen and stuck, to feeling open and free, by turning our attention inward and moving with awareness.
To feel it, we must make a commitment to contentment and show up -whether to a class, or to our mat at home. That is Tapas. Tapas is showing up even when we do not want to- tapas means using the memory of the shift to contentment to inspire us to stick to our commitment.
Svadhyaya, is what we cultivate by coming to class. Studying the teachings whether it is in the form of asana or meditation technique, or the philosophy and readings shared in class. Svadhyaya is also demonstrated in knowing oneself and how to overcome the resistance to coming to class, or whatever our resistance is.
As we practice these teachings, we deepen our self knowledge and our inner awareness.
When we turn our attention inward and make this commitment to growth and contentment, we contact something that is unique for each one of us. Some describe it as stillness, or ease, while others call it wholeness, joy or space.
In whatever form we experience “it” this is Ishvara Pranidhana, our connection to our true nature and to something much bigger than our individual self. When we are willing to surrender our resistances enough to experience our true nature, this is living Yoga.
It is this true nature that radiates from the smiles of the people coming and going from the Yoga Centre Winnipeg!
It warms our hearts on even the coldest of days!