By Clare Broomhead
“Yoga is a dance between control and surrender — between pushing and letting go — and when to push and when to let go becomes part of the creative process, part of the open-ended exploration of your being.”Joel Kramer
I have been practicing yoga now since 2012 and my journey has taken me in many different directions. This includes exploring various styles of asana practice, the teachers I have studied with most importantly finding that space where I have truly explored who I am and start to grow from that inner learning.
There are so many different types of yoga practice available now, which is both incredible and can be truly daunting. It’s so important to commence your journey with an open enquiring mind, like the mind of a child.
Many people come to yoga either as a means to heal from an injury or as an alternative to competitive or team sports. Coming from this angle we can be looking for immediate and external results. Like with anything we are seeking; if we aren’t rewarded with it quickly, we can become disappointed.
Pushing for instantaneous healing or immediate aesthetic results can mean that we miss the ‘in-between’ which is where much of the learning and growth actually happens. I often quote in classes: “Yoga is an infinite journey with no destination, it is not the end goal that is important is what we learn about ourselves on the way there.”
My journey started due to injury but also some time ago when there was considerably less choice in terms of yoga classes available. I started with a gentle practice but the soon discovered Granville, who is a very long established Ashtanga & Iyengar teacher, with a deep Buddhist knowledge. I continued to explore many avenues but after 5 years of training, I made the decision to do my teacher training I opted to train in Yin yoga whose origins are based on Chinese Dao philosophy, Chinese medicine and the movement of Chi around the body.
This gentle practice, that works deep into the fascia tissue, together with the ligaments and tendons also teaches you to slow down and listen to your body with no expectations. At this time, I was holding down 3 jobs, my 3 children and 2 step-children were all at the exam, job/university application, driving test, going out (where did they go and when are they coming back!) stage. My life was very busy, so Yin gave me the chance to slow down and reflect internally.
As my journey progressed, I studied Hatha, being the root of all yoga practices, but also discovered Ashtanga yoga at the same time. Ashtanga is a strong set sequence of yoga derived from Hatha which synchronises the breath with movement.
Once you have learnt the sequence, the practice allows you to flow through the poses in a moving meditation. I personally find this far more effective for my metal state than any other asana practice I have tried. The increasing difficulty of each pose means that your mind cannot wander, and your focus is truly bought inwards.
The space I now find myself in is exploratory again; finding a mix between both a gentler yin and a stronger ashtanga, with a vinyasa to allow my creative side to develop. A great Yin and Yang combination.
As your yoga journey develops, it is possible that you will start in one direction and then divert down a different path only to find that you need to pursue both paths. This is the beauty of the way that Yoga is taught. All instruction follows down lineages, with each guru imparting their knowledge from generation to generation. This direct transmission of knowledge and technique ensures the survival of the practice (5000 years and counting!), the traditions and allows space for the spiritual and physical development of practitioners.
Tiffany Cruikshank summarises these ideas beautifully:
“If we practice yoga long enough, the practice changes to suit our needs. It’s important to acknowledge that the practice isn’t meant to be one practice for everybody. The beautiful thing about yoga is that there are so many different approaches. As we go through our life cycles, hopefully we are able to find a practice that suits us. And if you practice yoga long enough, that will change many times. What exactly that looks like is going to be different for each person.”
It doesn’t matter who you are, where you have come from or what you are seeking. All you need to begin is to step onto the mat. Don’t begin worrying about the journey: The magic of this ancient practice will reveal itself and your yoga really will find you.