The benefits of yoga OFF THE MAT – part 2 – the support of the yoga community

Following on from part 1 of the benefits of yoga OFF THE MAT now I would like to share my experience with you about the support I have received from the yoga community over the years.

I clearly remember attending a morning class as a student not long after my husband suddenly passed away, many years ago.  I was sitting on a yoga block and as the sun softly shone in the room I was thinking that this was familiar environment and I should keep coming here to allow this part of my life to go on as it used to.

In May this year on a Thursday morning the phone rang from Hungary and I learnt that my Mother had peacefully passed away a few hours earlier. As a good yogi she went with a peaceful exhalation. We were talking and crying with my friend on Skype for more than an hour.  Obviously there was no time to find a replacement teacher with such a short notice so I got ready to teach from 10.00 am. My students are regular in my class so my initial thought was to tell them about my loss at beginning of the class but changed my mind and taught the class without saying anything about Mum.   At the end of the class one of my students asked how was my Mum and then the tears started to roll again. Another student offered to drive me to my Aunt’s place after the class to share the bad news.

I attended The Australian Yoga Therapy conference on the coming weekend. I have known some of the fellow teachers for a decade or more. During the two day conference I cried a bit here and there and everybody was sympathetic, accepting and allowed me space to be. Again I felt the support of the yoga community.

Yoga is a holistic system made up of 8 steps or stages which relate to the progress of our practice – from social conduct to enlightment.  In a general yoga class we practice poses and breath control (steps 3 & 4 of the 8 limbs). It is said that Ayurveda (Indian health science which focuses on Agni, the digestive fire) is yoga OFF THE MAT.

Regular yoga practice teaches us both perseverance and letting go, listening to our body.

I have attended a few yoga retreats over the years (Satyananda yoga ashram at Mangrove creek, Billabong to mention the ones closest to home). Some people attend these retreats to deepen their yoga practice or to “have time off” to deal with issues they need to deal with such as relationship breakdown, difficult children or work problems. Yoga retreats are a good way to travel, to meet like minded people, to cleanse your digestive system with good vegetarian food and to get clarity of thought. It all helps to come back to balance. My experience in these retreats that someone will always be available to have a chat or just to listen to you.

I find it reassuring to practice with regular fellow students and have regular students in my class. Over time we get to know each other and friendships are born from the common shared interest.

Over the years I witnessed dancers/artists/film makers / food provedores marketing themselves in their yoga community. If I have a chance I will attend the show or exhibition promoted by fellow yogis.

Once you become a yogi you become a yogi for life. The benefits of yoga “OFF THE MAT” are almost as important as the practice itself.