After spending almost a year now in Kampala; Uganda, I look back to all the people I have shared yoga here with since I came, or have practiced with and think about where we are at. I have taught policemen, security guards, school teachers, NGO workers, mental health patients, support workers, students, cleaners, mums and lots more, local Ugandans and expats alike. I have practiced with some guys that certainly like to bring the idea of ‘Power’ to the mat. Some have been amazingly open and joyful even excited to come to my classes, whilst others have been suspicious and defensive to the practice. Before coming to this beautiful country I was warned by a lovely Ugandan lady I had been teaching in Kathmandu – Nicky be careful with the deepness in your classes, be careful with your chanting and the spiritual aspect, go gently. I listened to her of course but I have always stuck to the truth of the teachings, I have complete faith in them because I have felt them and do so on a daily basis and I’m not scared to be challenged, in fact I almost welcome it as I see a lot of modern forms of yoga being practiced here as a physical experience only. I am only too keen to have the opportunity to practice here and bring to others classical yoga and the depths of all my trainings. As I look back to how I first started many years ago, sometimes I felt resistance too but this softened and slowly I started to embrace all aspects of yoga. I stopped fighting and managed to put myself on a little lotus leaf and let it be carried by the river of life. I stopped needing to be in control. I stopped worrying about my body and started to be more concerned with my heart.
When I first started yoga I had no intention really of a spiritual journey I just wanted to play with the body and see what I could do, I wasn’t even really aware of what yoga was and thought it to be just some form of exercise, but over time things started to open within me, and I wanted to and started to connect to the divine. I started to connect to that which is divine within us, my whole world started to open on a level I hadn’t really experienced before. Meaningfulness started to poor into my practice, which in turn opened up new possibilities in my life. I no longer battle to try and find whatever it was I thought I was looking for, I no longer battle to be in a place where I think I should be, but take joy in surrendering to the play of life in a very wonderful and beautiful cosmos. When I think back before I had found this amazing thing called yoga I seem to have been always searching or fighting something, now I am relaxed and contented. I am relaxed to be where I am on a moment-by-moment basis and to find a contentment or acceptance of it.
This yoga is a journey and as much as I love to travel the globe, meet new cultures and learn from them and see the beauties of the planet, I also love to journey within now with confidence to explore the soul. It is an amazing adventure and one of constant learning. Which is a wonderful thing to keep learning and being ever inquisitive.
Yoga isn’t about standing on our heads, putting our legs behind our heads, being able to hold plank pose for five minutes, it is about accepting our humanness and seeing the Divine within and journeying beyond. It is becoming the master over the five elements - which make our physical bodies, it is being able to observe our mental activities and emotions, it is finding complete balance over our energies, and moving beyond this. It is about exploring our limitations and then becoming limitless. Now when I chant Siva Siva Siva Siva, it is not that I am a Hindu or have a vision of a form of a man with dreadlocked hair tied above his head holding a trident, but that of the meaning of Siva – that which is not. Because that which is – is material, it is physical – that which is not, goes beyond.
Yoga pre-dates any religion, before any idea of religion entered humans mind, yoga was.
So when I meet people coming to yoga for the first times and I find they have a heart that is closed, a mind showing resistance, in a way it makes me smile as I think back to myself, and also now to those people that I met in the past and that also showed that same resistance, but they kept coming and are now yoga teachers themselves.
Oh for the journey!
AUM Lokha Somastha Sukhino Bhavantu
May all beings find harmony and balance.
Mangala / Nicky.