How I learnt what yoga really is and how a very special question changed my life. I am very happy to share this truly beautiful travel experience – accompanied by a little poem of mine – with you.
I arrived without a clue
thinking yoga was so much less
than what it turned out to be.
I arrived as a body – with hidden pains and judgemental thoughts
blessed with the numbness of ignorance,
stuck in this world of people
trying to find whats already there.
I know you also have been longing
longing for that which can’t be grasped
crying many tears into a never ending void.
Chasing happiness like this was all we know
when really, it is so much more than a shot of joy.
Have you ever asked yourself the question – WHO AM I? If someone asked you that question before, most of the time what that person wanted to really know is “what’s your name,” where are you from,” or “what do you do”. Naturally, one would answer, “I am Laura, 28, from Germany, I am travelling the world, working as a writer, I like dancing and yoga, I am open-minded and adventurous,” and so on. But, I invite you now, just for a moment, to close your eyes and ask that question out loud. And don’t listen to the words themselves, listen to the ECHO they create. There is something else to that question than just our personality. We all intuitively know that there is MORE – something hidden, something quiet, something magical.
Then, I followed a distant call
and on a wondrous hill on top of paradise, I found something long forgotten.
Surrounded by the one light looking through many eyes,
surrounded by beautiful souls, searching for the same unknown.
I have been in search of that something for a while now. What it ultimately means is getting to know yourself with all the dark and dirty corners we choose to ignore. My path led me to a very special place where I would finally understand that this question doesn’t need an answer. A beautiful soul recommended me this Yoga Center on the coast of Mexico, and without really knowing what the course was about, I just trusted my intuition and booked a 3-week intensive yoga module at Hridaya.
Hridaya is a beautiful yoga and mediation centre, located in the magical village of Mazunte, Mexico. When we got told at the introduction that this course is all about connecting to and opening your Spiritual Heart, even though I didn’t really know what it really meant, I knew that these following weeks would be incredible – and also really, really TOUGH.
Who said this will be easy?
Probably it is so easy that something inside of us makes it difficult
Trying to put that into words which doesn’t speak.
My mind screamed at me,
my body failed me,
my feelings overwhelmed me.
Then I heard these most familiar words
WHO AM I
Making everything stop.
Then there was only … one.
There was no me and no you and no them.
We all merged into the unspoken truth.
Into a rainbow of never ending magic.
We all have our ideas about what yoga is. In the Western world, the image created is mostly that of a super bendy, good looking girl in tight, colourful pants doing poses no normal human being could ever do. It is pretty much downgraded to its physical aspect when really that is just a tiny part of yoga. Yoga literally means “union”, the union of you and what you now consider outside of you. Where there is no myself and them, no birth and death, no good and bad – everything is ONE. At Hridaya, a group of 47 seekers started to explore this path together.
This course is focused on the Spiritual Heart, but what does that mean? Try now and focus your attention in the middle of your chest, right above the solar plexus. Then, go one finger-width to the right, and THERE IT IS. We usually consider our heart to be on the left side of our chest, but the part that is responsible for pumping the blood through our body is actually located slightly to the right. But the Spiritual Heart is much more than just a physical location, it is a place where you can, when you really pay attention, feel a sacred vibration that makes all thoughts disappear. There you can rest in complete silence. Take a few moments to put your attention there – can you feel the subtle vibration?
Every morning the community gets together in silence. Hridaya Meditation follows 3 main steps to relax your mind:
1) Focus your attention on the Spiritual Heart in the middle of the chest.
2) Slow your breathing and focus on the pauses between breaths.
3) Ask the question, “Who am I?” and listen to the echoes.
At Hridaya, they teach old school Hatha Yoga, adjusted to modern times. This form of yoga is completely different from your yoga studio Vinyasa flow. All the poses are done INCREDIBLY slowly, cultivating awareness of every movement and feeling the energy flow of the Chakras. Trust me, this yoga has tested my patience many times, but once you learn to accept both movement and stillness, this practice becomes a blissful meditation.
Every day at 11 am and 5 pm we got served two fresh, vegan meals following Ayurvedic principles. At first, it was hard to just eat 2 times a day, but the long fasting time of 18 hours made you feel more fit and light. Sometimes it is good to listen to what lies beyond the feeling of hunger. We also ate in noble silence every day, making it possible to really focus on chewing and tasting. A beautiful ritual I now follow is to bless my food before I eat it, thanking nature and the people who made it with love.
Every evening, a different teacher acquainted us with another topic to understand the old Yogic tradition. My favourite lectures were the 6 Chakras, the Yoga of Sleep (Yoga Nidra), Yogic diet and Tantra. We also held separate women’s and men’s circle where we dove deeper into the world of tantra and relationships (I will write a separate post about all of that, it is SO interesting).
The probably toughest part were the “Krijas”, old Yogic methods to cleanse the body and clear the mind. Besides harmless tongue scraping and nose flushing, we also tried stomach cleansing through throwing up (sounds horrible, and yes it is quite a challenge), and we also did a full intestinal cleanse with saltwater where the toilet literally became your best friend.
Besides Yoga, meditation and lectures, we also did ecstatic dance, mantra singing and a few other workshops – all included in the Module 1 Yoga Intensive.
I have to admit these 3 weeks really transformed me. I learnt so much about myself and how life is like a symphony of imperfect perfection. I could write ten more pages about this experience, but I want to encourage you to make it yourself!
Together, we learnt to be silent again,
Together, we faced the darkness inside,
Together, we turned the spark into a burning flame.
So lets keep watching the sun rise
in the never ending pulse of our heart
Realising we have never been apart.
1) The connection to the heart can lead you to your true self, it is like a gateway to stillness and of course to love. It is important to open your heart and feel EVERYTHING again. Let those walls crumble!
2) You are not your body, not your emotions. Realise that what you look like, think and feel is not everything. Behind the clouds of ego, there is your true self – which is timeless, limitless and immortal.
3) Even if we are not our body, it is very important to take care of the “vessel”, because a healthy and strong body is capable of reaching much higher spiritual goals.
4) Take time to explore yourself, realising your tendencies and patterns. Meditation is the best practice to start paying attention to the thoughts you cannot let go of and feelings you are attached to.
5) Bring more awareness into your life. Look at what you do, how you do it and what your intentions behind your actions are. Observe and reflect constantly, only then you can really grow.
6) The most beautiful and important learning: WE ARE ALL ONE. Reconnect with nature, animals, food, as well as your body, feelings and true self. Create bonds with people around you, because they are the same existence, looking through different eyes. Learn to love everyone and everything.
The one you have been searching for, is me.
The one I have been trying to reach, is you.
Now, we are all one.
… WHO ARE YOU?
Thank you for appreciating my art!