For me, yoga is all about connection and reconnection. Coming from a strongly scientific background it would be easy to assume that I would be a sceptic and have no interest in anything beyond the physical. Actually, it is quite the opposite. Studying chemical and nuclear physics at university made me strongly aware that all matter is equal, all matter is made of energy – that which cannot be created or destroyed and has been in existence since the Big Bang. If this is so, then we are all more inextricably linked to each other and the Universe than we ever could imagine. My atoms are the same atoms that were created in the Sun millions of years ago, just in a new form. The atoms in Brad Pitt’s breakfast may once have been in volcano that destroyed Pompeii. The atoms from a wash bucket in Auschwitz may now be in a Costa latte. We could never tell.
As a scientist and Reiki practitioner I also believe that these energies run through our body. In yoga this would translate as prana, or life energy, running through the nadis, or energy channels. I do believe that periods of physical or emotional trauma can off-centre the energy which is in delicate balance in our body. This is where yoga can help to restore and repair the energy paths. In our meditative practise we can calm and relax the spirit and mind and in our asana practise we can reawaken and redress the body.
In a world where we rarely truly have time to ourselves, small moments of inner peace can make all the difference to our happiness. I know this first hand as yoga helped me overcome depression. Too often I lived in the state of ‘what if’ and found myself on a downward spiral. It occurred to me one day that I was miserable as I persistently put the key to my own happiness in the palm of another. Then, when it fell apart, so did I and I would dwell on what went wrong to the point of seeking medical attention. I have learnt that through being more centred and putting my body in control, all that matters in the present. The past does not matter as it is gone, and why worry about the future when it hasn’t happened yet? When you are in control of your own body and mind, you are in control of your life. Even though external factors may throw spanners in the works, the way you respond is the way you will overcome.
With this in mind, while practising yoga it is important to remember who we are and where we came from, in order to be truly grounded and centred in our practise. In my classes I hope to be able to teach calming of the mind and work towards chitta vritti nirodha. I hope to be able to create a sustainably peaceful but happy atmosphere, a welcoming environment where exploration is encouraged and judgements are left outside. We are, after all, from one and the same.