The Yogic Awakening:
5 Things You Won’t Expect
Who doesn’t love that overwhelming post-yoga feeling of semi-enlightenment? It’s enough to practically bring us to tears, and sometimes it does. It is what pulls us back time and time again, literally bringing us to our knees as we surrender our entire being in child’s pose. 10 minutes later, however, is an entirely different story. The warm enlightened connected feeling has completely gone. Its departure was probably prompted by an email from your boss, or the sound of an angry driver shouting obscenities in the busy street.
You have read the blogs of those who have found enlightenment through yoga, in fact, you’re pretty sure your yoga teacher is as zen as they come. You realise that an hours class is not going to be enough to sustain the feeling, so, you sign up to a workshop, a retreat or maybe even a teacher training. If you think you know what to expect, think again, here are 5 things that are bound to happen on your journey to a yogic awakening:
You Will be Shaken Up
Many intensive programmes put a strong emphasis on conscious questioning and self inquiry, as well as the physical practice. The aim of this is to strip back the layers of your ego so you can live and/or teach from your most authentic self. Sound gruelling? Well, it is.
A popular example is this. The facilitators will make you draw a picture of the ‘mask’ you wear everyday. They then ask you to deconstruct it; write down its pros and cons, notice how long you have been wearing it, and finally, ask it where it comes from. This brings up all our buried insecurities and makes us confront beliefs we hold about ourselves, plunging us into our most vulnerable state. Sometimes this opens a whole can of worms we never even knew existed. There will be tears, and lots of them.
Your Life Will Seem Different
Once you have taken your skeletons out of the closet for a quick dance around before discarding them (hopefully) for good, the way you view yourself, your job, your friends – well, everything – is going to be very different. Yoga has the power to change you forever.
When you return home you will probably suffer a day or two. Your emotions will have been riled up, your vulnerability shown to the world, and you will likely feel a strange mix of raw but alive. This is sometimes known as a yoga-comedown. After you have adjusted you will notice that you are looking at the world through a fresh-pair of eyes, allowing you to see truth in almost every situation. Put simply, when you change the way you see yourself, your entire world changes.
It is Just the Beginning
Once your mind, body and soul have been opened there is only one way to go – forward. That’s how you got here in the first place. The problem with yoga is, there are just so many avenues to explore. You can go guns blazing into the philosophy, anatomy, spirituality (you name it, yoga’s got it) and you will find yourself in open waters of possibility. Annoyingly, they all seem to connect to each other, it can be pretty hard to pick apart the tangles to decide which thread you want to follow first.
You Realise you Don’t Really Know Anything
Venturing into yoga knocks you right back to square one. Forget everything you thought you knew about yourself, the world and how it all works. Yoga wakes us up from the inside out, you have to learn to listen to your body, to your sensory experience. Understanding your emotions in a physical sense and rewriting your internal map is like learning a new language. Our bodies and minds hold a type of intelligence that we’re not taught about in school, and being introduced to it in our adult lives blurs the edges of our reality.
You Are Not Enlightened
Sometimes, all that soul shaking and searching leaves us feeling even more confused. Yoga doesn’t give you the answers – it leaves you with more questions about your questions. The purpose of yoga is to illuminate the path, not to lead us down it. It shows us the door but doesn’t tell us what is behind it. If you’ve come this far, chances are you’ve already opened it and had a peak. You’re either curious or terrified, or maybe both.
One great thing that yoga does teach us, is that all you need is your breath, your body and the Earth. With these three things we know we are safe and all our most fundamental needs are met. Sometimes, the path of yoga can leave you lost in the void of your own mind, in the midst of an existential crisis. But then it reminds you to breath, to come into your body, and almost instantly, you are brought back home.
By Rachael Haylock
Rachael Haylock is a yoga teacher, dancer and writer from London. She believes in the exchange of influence, inspiration and ideas. Through her passions for movement and words she hopes to promote connection and expression of all forms. She spends her time dancing, moving and exploring, in quiet and loud spaces.