Something has been on my mind lately, and I want to share.
While I no longer physically reside in Des Moines, I am still very much connected to the community here. The yoga scene is blowing up at the moment, and I have mixed feelings about this. It is amazing to see so many options opening up for the residents of Des Moines to get in touch with their body; their physical vehicle for the soul in this life. The mind-body connection is quite powerful, and asana (postures, or what most people refer to as ‘yoga’) is definitely an access point to other layers of your energetic body.
However, what we (in Western culture) often fail to understand, is that asana (postures/stretching) is only ONE out of the 8 limbs of yoga. It’s is 1/8th of what the practice, state, and experience of yoga actually is. It’s not just matching breath to movement; it’s a process of unification, uniting the mind, body & soul. It’s understanding that we are all connected. It’s discovery and evolution; it’s transformation and transcendence. It’s realizing that you are not your mind, and you are not your body. It’s self-realization, and it’s understanding and locating the true essence of who you are.
Don’t get me wrong - asana is important - very important. We need to get into our limbs, into our muscles, and into the connective tissue that holds our body together. The body stores emotion, and we need release. My opinion is that our current collective needs more than just asana, however, all we seem to be receiving in Des Moines is… more and more asana. I’ve met many yogis in Des Moines who have been practicing asana for years, and while they might have beautiful looking postures and might be well known teachers in the community, they aren’t evolving or growing outside of their physical practice. You can see this for yourself when you haven’t seen someone in 10 years, and when you interact with them, they are the same person they were 10 years ago. No evolution. What about pranayama? The yamas & niyamas? What about pratyahara, dharana, dhyana and samadhi? Four of the 8 limbs of yoga are literally meditation. Where are all the meditation and breath classes? Yes, they exist, but the sheer number of offerings pales in comparison to asana.
Here's what is important for you to know:
When we only practice asana, when we confine our yoga practice to only the physical energy body, we limit our growth and evolution. Yoga wasn’t brought to the United States to give us flexibility and pretty looking poses to post on Instagram. It was brought here to help raise the baseline consciousness of a collective that was (and still is) finding itself disconnected. Our collective is disconnected from its purpose, disconnected from love, disconnected from life’s true meaning. We are disconnected from change, growth, and evolution. We are disconnected and fighting our own innate nature, drowning in suffering and unprocessed generational trauma, leading unfulfilling lives and feeling a deep inner void. Yoga is the intentional act of union, joining, and connectedness. Yoga (yes, all 8 limbs of it) is the answer you’re looking for. Asana is the doorway - but you need to walk through it, down the hallway, turn the corner and plunge into the rabbit hole. There, in the depth of uncertainty, within your own inner awareness, you will find exactly what it is your soul desires. Spoiler alert: it’s not a job, a car or a fancy house.
Choose to let this empower you, not overwhelm you. Know that with so many offerings here now, you are in control of who you have leading you down this path of evolution. Walking through the doorway can be intimidating, and you need a proper guide to show you the way down the hall. So, as you begin to see an influx of yoga offerings, ask yourself… “Is my teacher walking their talk? Am I being lead by someone who is constantly evolving? Am I being shown the hallway beyond the door?” And honestly, one of the very 1st questions you should be asking is “Does my yoga teacher have a meditation practice?” My master teacher in India placed so much importance on meditation that we were told if we could not commit to and maintain a regular, daily meditation practice, then we should not be teaching yoga.
There are plenty of teachers in this area who are walking their talk, but it’s up to you to locate them and seek them out. Are you ready to stop playing small? Are you ready to take your power back and walk down your own path of evolutio