Over twenty years ago I started practicing yoga. I followed an inner voice while I was lying on the floor after a workout in the gym. I didn't like the gym. I loved yoga. Soon I was taking up to five classes per week. I loved learning to tune into the subtleties of alignment, to feel separate muscle groups and learn how to move them. I loved using my breath to bring my mind all the way with my body and my movement. I wouldn't notice anybody else in class. I learned a lot about my body and how to use yoga to make it feel better.
When I did a teacher training the the whole system of yoga opened up to me. I learned about the different philosophies and how they can bring more control of your mind. So I sat my first meditation retreat. It was very revealing of how the body, mind, and emotions feed into each other, and was not easy. I noticed the deep inner freedom I felt after sitting and watching my impulses for days at a time, instead of following my impulses day after day. I remember sitting outside in the sun, and feeling the sun's rays on my body and hearing the insect wings buzz, and it brought such deep satisfaction.
I loved the increasing subtlety of my "yoga" practice, and the emphasis changed from asana/postures to breathing and meditation.
Then I went to Ayurveda school in 2001, and studied even more ancient Indian science. This time it was the medical side. I learned that anything that we put or allow into our bodies - and that includes any sensorial impression - mental or emotional experience, needs to be digested and properly assimilated, in order to serve us. A healthy digestion makes for good health. I learned that "like increases like", and that "opposites balance". I learned that one man's food and herbal medicine is another's poison. And I learned about the cycles of nature, and that changing your lifestyle in order to flow with those cycles, really makes you feel better.
The ability to tune into subtlety increased again, this time extending to the chemistry of foods in my body, what it feels like to be 'acidic', and how 'vata' feels, and 'pitta' and 'kapha'. And the realization came that everything can be "yoga" practice. That I am not a bad yogi if I don't do any official "practice" during the day, but that if I do what I do with an awareness of how I do it and how it affects me and others, I am always practicing. Ofcourse I can sharpen my intuition, my mind, the tuning into subtlety, of myself and of others, with official practice, so I still do that too, just not as religiously, or maybe dogmatically. And when I practice I'm taking time out of my day to do things, yoga and meditation, to make my body and nervous system feel better. I'm taking good care of myself, I'm practicing preventative medicine.
Over the years I have found that having these ancient Indian practices in my life is empowering more than anything. It's given me a way to return to a balanced state, no matter what life throws at me.
I feel deep gratitude when I walk this path...