This week I’ve watched a documentary about yoga called Enlighten Up!
Kate Churchill is a filmmaker and yoga practitioner who sets out to prove that yoga can transform anyone. Her test subject is Nick Rosen, skeptical but well up for a challenge. Kate and Nick travel extensively, meeting plenty of yoga celebrities and some of the godfathers of modern yoga. I don’t want to spoil it for you because I believe it’s worth dedicating an hour and fifteen minutes of your time to watch it. You can watch it here on documentarywire with helpful Spanish subtitles! Needless to say though that it doesn’t go entirely to plan and Kate’s plans start to unravel as Nick begins to question what yoga is truly about and some uncomfortable feelings bubble up to the surface.
Overall I found the documentary very interesting and it made me think a lot about my own yoga practice. Yoga is not the miraculous answer to all of life’s questions. It will not transform you overnight into an enlightened, tofu-eating yoga-lebrity, wafting serenely through life in a cloud of patchouli!
However, a regular and dedicated yoga practice keeps you fit, helps alleviate the symptoms of many illnesses, can help with stress, anxiety and depression, improve your posture etc., just Google it and you’ll find hundreds of articles about it. Here‘s a good article on Yoga Journal.
What about enlightenment and inner peace though? Do I have to travel to an ashram in India and sit in meditation for 10 hours per day? It’s unlikely that any of us will ever achieve guru-like grace from a once per week practice. But, you can cultivate a calmer, more peaceful, less tumultuous approach to your life with a regular yoga practice and I guarantee that a some point you’ll have a revelation or two. Sometimes hitting you between the eyes like a thunderbolt when you are in a posture and sometimes appearing more subtly the day after or week after in the form of feeling more calm about a situation or person.
The important thing is to remember to listen. Listen to your body and approach your yoga with reverence, moving in and out of each posture with a joyful curiosity. No two practices are ever the same, your body and mind are different each time you practice. Take care of your alignment, trust your breath, respect your body and the sensations within it instead of throwing yourself around your yoga mat and pushing yourself to the very limit of your physical abilities. Enlightenment comes from within, it’s inside you already. Stay present, stick at it and you’ll find what you need to find inside yourself.