While in Mysore learning from my teacher I find some time for reflecting upon different aspects of the practice. During conference my teacher mentioned that "the whole purpose of yoga is to become spiritual, yoga is all experience, there is no achievement in that, experience without expectation". That got me thinking.
In fact what attracted me to Ashtanga Yoga was the sincerity, how it required me be true and honest to myself and others. It was not about making things look aesthetic and peaceful, certainly not about pretending, but about genuineness. I learnt to see through eyes of non-judgement and acceptance, to be humble, become friends with my own ego, resist being lazy and put in the effort. There are no shortcuts.
The simple practice of non-judgement has the power to transform our experience in this world. Judgement is our ego’s primary reaction to situations that cause it to feel challenged or threatened. It is a tool for survival. Judgement can also make us feel superior and important. And yet, those things we judge as "wrong" or "bad" often bother us so much that they can have a negative impact on our lives.
At some stage in my yoga journey, I started experiencing a humbling sensation of total bliss and peace, acknowledging situations and people as they are without the need to look further. Every single person that continues to practice beyond the early phase of fascination with the physical poses has probably felt that slight moment of euphoria.
I used to work in advertising for many years, promoting/selling products that are not necessarily as great, but it was my job. Yoga on the other hand, was my sacred space where things were raw and authentic. In fact, my yoga practice at the time was the reason I could go about my day and cope with the things life kept throwing my way. My yoga practice had become my temple. So in a way you can say that I visit my temple everyday, I set candles and lay flowers at my temple, I pray and chant at my temple, I make sacrifices and dedicate my whole being when I practice. I dive in with all my pains but also with all my love and comfort.
I chose a way of life that allows me to visit my sacred space everyday happily and with gratitude.
There are still many times during my practice when I catch my mind wandering off, and have to redirect my focus on to the present moment, on to my breath. The practice is so beautifully structured to allow the practitioner a much broader understanding of their deepest core. For me it has given me the tools to free myself of the pre-conditioned thinking and has given me the opportunity to explore personal and spiritual development.
I do agree that each of us will experience yoga in our own unique way, not one experience can be duplicated.
Spirituality is the core of the teachings of Ashtanga Yoga, the same way the rays of the sun and the sun itself belong together, or the same way the waterfall and the river originate from the same source.