The Life Changing Magic of Raja Yoga
Before I start… I have to share that I already wrote this whole post and by some freak shift in the internet, the entire thing disappeared. So here I am rewriting what I thought was an excellent blog post, but now I have to start over.
We’ve all been there right? Working really hard on something and then in a split second it goes to the dogs. I could curse at my computer or tell myself how stupid I am for not saving my work, etc. With life’s setbacks, our minds lock into an automatic reaction which can deteriorate our physical and mental health.
I’m happy to report that after 17+ years of practice, I’m more calm than I am screaming and cursing. (Oh yes… I still do that… I’m not perfect in any way.)
Before I studied Raja Yoga — the science of the mind — I lived my live as a victim of my circumstance, always feeling sorry for myself. It was my conditioned mindset. We all have that… We automatically react to things in our life that we believe cannot allow us to be content: our body shape, our skin, our salary, our career, our relationships, our sex life, etc. Raja Yoga, changes this relationship for the better.
What exactly is Raja Yoga? Why is it so life changing?
Let me manage your expectations. Yes, it’s magical, but not a miracle that will happen instantly. Taking a Raja Yoga Foundation Course with me lasts 5 days, and I know you will definitely walk away feeling inspired, rejuvenated and transformed, but the real magic comes with the slow, gradual shifting of your mindset in the days, weeks or months that follow.
It all starts with four simple Sanskrit words:
Yogas Chitta Vritti Nirodhah
The restraint of the modifications of the mind-stuff is Yoga
In real English, it means: when you can take control of your conditioned thought patterns and make the mind still, you will experience peace.
It’s a bold statement to make.
The key is to learn how to keep your mind still, and then know what to do with what comes up.
It sounds so simple doesn’t it?
When was the last time you gave yourself 10 minutes to be still and do nothing? My guess is never (unless you are a regular meditator, on retreat or doing a teacher training with me). If you try it, a flood of information will bubble up: everything on our to do lists, all the messages our body has been trying to tell us but we’ve been too busy to listen to, and importantly, our loudest thought pattern (the one we are always ruminating about) comes up to the surface to overpower the others. It’s overwhelming, frustrating and in many cases totally frightening.
Raja Yoga teaches us how to sort through this mess, just like spring cleaning our inner home.
The study and practice helps us process negative emotions and issues of betrayal, hurt, grief, loss, pain, guilt, and shame. The science provides a formula for good mental health, teaching us practical strategies for improving the qualities of our relationships, for finding inner courage and strength when we have none, and for intercepting and letting go of the crap that plagues our peace of mind.
Let me share a personal example. Two years ago, I was stuck in bed, paralysed in fear from an ugly situation I was facing in my life. I had children to look after and busy day seeing clients, yet I couldn’t move. My solar plexus was locked tight, I couldn’t breathe and I was so anxious. How could I face the day? The situation was not in my control (I hate not being in control). It was in the hands of someone who could change my life forever. I could lose my house… my kids could potentially be in danger… I had to look over my shoulder when walking down the street… that kind of bad.
I was so so grateful for the teachings of Raja Yoga. Because when my automatic fear reactions overtook my body and mind, I could use its exact formula to pick it apart. First, I started with unlocking my solar plexus, secondly I worked on managing my fears. I was able to take control of an ugly situation and put in place protections that were in my control, and even let go of what I couldn’t control. I was able to come back to a steady mind in a matter of minutes and proceed with courage and control of my mind until the entire situation passed.
There is no point contorting your body into different shapes, if your mind cannot develop the same level of flexibility and strength.
What I learned is that when life gets bad, the mind just goes crazy. But nothing is permanent, not even bad situations. Raja Yoga is to be practiced when things are calm. Like a reserve food bank you can call upon when life throws a curve ball that can potentially break me. It reminds me that while I can get burned, scarred or deeply hurt, I still get back up.
It’s not always simple, but it’s very very effective.
I encourage you to join me in learning about Raja Yoga — study your mind and see for yourself just how magically life changing it is.
(And yes… this blog post was way better than the one I lost.)