Why become an intellectual, if the subject has the potential to transform you in to a mystic?
Because it is really easy to have an intellectual approach to yoga, it is easy to put quotes everywhere -everyone has been “touched” by a quote-. With roots in literature studies I can say, by experience, how easy it is to over think.
But why are we doing yoga, then?
If we accept the definition of yoga as
The first idea that comes into our minds is that we need to stop thinking, because in some way, we identify these movements with thoughts.
I think I need to stop thinking.
I started to practice around ten years ago. I was finishing high school and I wanted to find something different to do, something new, something for me. That is how I searched in the yellow pages (old concept, ah?) and found a little studio near my house.
I went there and during the first practice I felt how important yoga will be in my life.
During my years in university I practice all the time: different methods, schools and teachers but I was there, experiencing the physical practice.
Probably because of this fact I had a break down in university, -where I was surrounded by real intellectuals-.
I started to feel that it was not worthy at all to “be in your head” all the time. I started to feel emotionally dry, incomplete and physically sick.
When I visualize myself in those moments I see myself as a big head. Just a head walking around, with a backpack full of books. A head full of thoughts, with excellent memory, being able to quote the most amazing authors in history but, absolutely disconnected from my own body and feelings.
The first and most important thing I started to feeling during the practice of asanas, was a link between my body and my emotions. During the practice –without understanding it too much at the beginning- I was using my body as a tool to dig in deeper into myself and a lot of feelings started to come out. Also, being able to feel my body fully –not just the big head- changed completely the idea that I had of myself.
So, with a yoga practice running parallel to my studies, this idea of myself as an intellectual lost its meaning. I got tired of it. And I quit.
My idea was to become a Yoga Instructor, but in that moment in Chile, there was not one good teacher training. So I waited. And during that time, following the advices of my first teacher, I practiced and I read a lot.
I spent many years reading tons of books about the subject, making summaries and I studied them. I was practicing a lot during this time but also I was memorizing quotes and trying to feel what others –books, masters and friends- told me to feel.
So I found myself in a very familiar place: feeling this “heavy head” sensation again, after transforming myself in to an intellectual of yoga.
During the last couple of years I tried not to read too much about yoga because it is my experience of it that had become really important. I know how Patañjali describes the path, I know what a lot of people have said about the history of yoga, I´ve been reading a lot about philosophy, the life of the sages, about enlightenment. A lot about yama, niyama, pranayama. Meditation. Tantra. Karma. Dharma. Symbols.
Now I feel it is time to experience, to discover by myself the secrets of this moment, to see if I can find my own words to share my experiences.
Even though I read about how the senses have to be controlled, it is through them I can see my practice moving, evolving, changing. It is the presence of jñanendriyas – five senses of perception- that helped me to feel my body, my skin, my energy until, their absence –in some moments of meditation- makes every idea that I have of myself disappear.
I know. I can see the division I am creating, connecting intellectual (thoughts, knowledge and thinking process) with the mind; connecting experience (feelings, sensations, emotions) with the body.
They say Yoga means Union.
I have been traveling during these years from one part of my body to another, from one emotion to another, from my skin, to my flesh to my bones. I have been traveling MOSTLY from one concept to another. During these years I have been feeling so many contradictions inside of me but, somehow, those contradictions opened my visual spectrum and now what I used to call reality is a beautiful open place waiting for me to fulfill it with experiences.
Yoga is a practice. And maybe inside of that word, “practice”, the secret is hidden. And even though I sound divided every part of me knows that yoga brought nothing more than unification to my life.