Happy 2015!

The year is still crisp, fresh and new, and expectations are high. Clearly, we all want to become a better version of ourselves. Today na today: We want to lose weight, clear our debts, get fit, and stop drinking alcohol. We make New Year’s resolutions in order to break old habits and cultivate new practices.

Obviously, there is nothing wrong with starting a new year on a new note. But does a new resolution really assist us in achieving a new lifestyle?

Many, many years back I stopped making New Year’s resolutions. At the same time I also stopped reading Chinese horoscopes, as well as I stopped setting annual goals. I, indeed, changed my habits. (Feel free to re-read my post on changing habits here).

Now, at the end of every year I simply try to be still. I might light a candle or two, ponder on past events and put down all the things I’m thankful for. Today, I understand that each single day presents itself with infinite possibilities. Every day invites us to take a closer look at our lives from different perspectives. We can change any-time, anywhere.

I’m haptic and physical exercise has always been an integral part of my life. I played basketball for 10 years, spent at least five days a week on the court and later became a fan of early-morning jogs in parks and forests. These hours of the day provided the space for my early-morning-meditation. Honestly, I now realize that I should have abandoned team sports much earlier than I did.

I’ve experienced my deepest and most intense prayers while jogging on lawns, passing lakes and inhaling oxygen. After about 15 to 20 minutes I would get to the point where mind and body are totally connected and the breath dictates the pace. You no longer consciously run, you actually are being run. You have become one with your environment, your mind stops wandering around and you are totally focussed. At this point, I always felt physically and spiritually connected. It is an awesome experience. You might now understand why jogging on Lagos’ roads has never appealed to me. Watching out for pot-holes, gutters, men urinating and drivers wanting to run you over, simply does not blend with my concept of relaxation and recreation.

Thankfully, spiritual growth is not restricted to people who like to read books. We all are wired in different ways. While some must read the manual before using a new gadget others learn mainly by doing: Trial-and-error is their way to go. Once we understand our temperament, learning style, and other preferences, the search for spiritual growth becomes no longer torture but fun. And indeed, our daily actions become a reflection of our faith.

At the point in time when I understood what yoga is all about, I instantly abandoned all prior means of work-out. And this is somebody who has always been very sceptical about the whole notion of yoga. This is somebody who was used to broken fingers, strains and torn ligaments. This is somebody who would never ever have imagined in her life to accompany others on their individual journey of healing and transformation. I am simply grateful to God for moulding me according to His likes.

Yoga is not a religion. The word yoga gets its origins from the Sanskrit word “Yug”. It means to join or to bind. To me, yoga is a holistic approach of connecting, aligning and harmonizing body and mind by using the means of physical exercise led by the breath. It is a mind-body-practice where the body is strengthened, toned and opened through a series of postures called asana. The fusion of asana (which means to be stable, still), breath (called pranayama) and meditation resp. visualization (which to me symbolizes a stillness of body and mind) help you achieve a type of mind-body-harmony, which allows you to appreciate the very moment. One of my clients recently was so trilled to share with me that she now understands the deeper meaning of prayers and meditation after having prayed her daily morning prayers following her yoga practice. She experienced a deeper level of connecting while meditating on God’s lasting truths.

Once I’m standing on a 60x182cm non-slip mat, my body is forced to be still. And since my body is forced to be still, my mind tries to escape. I would remember all the things to do, people to call and places to go. But once you start moving, once you start involving all the parts of your body in sync with your breath, you are listening to the melody of peace. Yoga is meant to be practised in silence. And this discipline is so much harder than running the fields and parks and bridges of this world.

Unfortunately, many Nigerians tend to allow fear to cloud their views. Yoga becomes this weird construct of fetish misconceptions and traditionalist superstition. And I’m not saying that one should be carefree. Rather, one needs to understand the different shades of grey. Interestingly, today I mostly work with Christians, some Muslims and Hindus. A couple of months ago I had a session with a catholic priest.

Yoga is thousands of years older than Hinduism. And, if yoga belongs to anybody, it belongs to everybody practising yoga. It belongs to humanity.

Observing my friend’s daughter Chisom actually made me realise that this ancient practice is as old as (wo-)mankind. This little girl was barely able to walk, but performed poses most of my clients struggle with with ease and perfection. Poses like the “Downward Facing Dog”, “Child’s Pose” “Forward Bend”, or “Happy Baby Pose” came naturally and instinctively to her. She simply included them into her daily routine. And if we could become a lot more like her, we would stop excluding a life of completion, and would start inviting a life of joy and fulfilment.

Chi’s Yoga fundamentally is about breath, mind and body work. It is about the moments of inner peace and connection. Chi’s Yoga provides space for your personal communion with God.

You are blessed!

Chi’s Yoga – Your yoga is yours only!™

Getting Started with Chi’s Yoga: Is Yoga a Religion?