01 Yoga Notes


Greetings fellow yogis and yoginis, and welcome to Yoga Notes. In this section of Radiant Living, we will be exploring various aspects of Yoga through its history, philosophy and our daily practices, both on and off the mat. Yoga has a fascinating story to tell, though it is sometimes a bit daunting and vague when we try to give to ourselves and to others an answer to the seemingly simple question, “What is Yoga?” I am guessing that at some point in your yoga journey you have encountered the blank stare of confusion when you try to explain what it is that makes Yoga unique from other forms of exercise or meditation.

In forthcoming issues, I will be providing stories and simple explanations that will hopefully provide you with some answers, or at least give a deeper understanding to your own practice. Examples will be such topics as: What is Yoga? Why do we chant OM? What is the difference between Vinyasa and Yin? Or, I may focus upon a single Sanskrit concept or Asana and how that may relate to our yoga practices on a larger scale. In addition, I will be happy to address specific requests or questions that you may have (but are afraid to ask in class!) about Yoga.

To begin, one of the topics that I have been talking about in my classes is the concept of samkalpa, or “intention”. We often hear this word at the beginning of class, about setting an intention for that day’s class. This is an important aspect for Yoga because it is not limited to that class alone, but rather can function as a mantra (word or phrase that we repeat to focus the mind) that we can return to again and again. When we enter the shala (the room in which we practice), we have already made a great stride in our yoga practice, simply by arriving.

Once we arrive, setting an intention for the class, or for our practice, can then help us to bring our minds in line with our bodies. For the New Year, then, I suggest setting an intention that you can carry with you for the rest of the year, with the caveat of: think small! We are used to hearing the opposite with resolutions, but if we just set a small intention, one that we can return to on a daily basis, we will find that slowly, day by day, like the sands in an hourglass, it adds up over time. Perhaps it is to come to one more yoga class per week/per month than last year. Maybe it is to bring a friend to a yoga class who has asked you about it in the past. Perhaps it is working on a single Asana, such as Adho Mukha Svasana (Downward-facing Dog). Or, maybe it is learning to breathe during rush hour traffic. Whatever it is, those small intentions, when practiced regularly shall make a larger impression than big ones practiced only once.

See you on the mat,

Join Robert each week for classes at Radiant Light Yoga Brussels