What is Yoga Anyway?
When ‘yoga’ first enters your world, perhaps you see the word in a magazine, over hear it discussed in a mothers group, see a pic on Insta or FB or maybe your gym starts to offer it as a class; unless you do a little bit of digging because you are ‘hearing’ a calling, the whole concept can be a little baffling…Maybe the idea of ‘yoga’ – thinking long haired hippies laconically chilling in meditative poses draped in beads with serene looks on their faces doesn’t fit with your idea of exercise nor a good time, let alone something you would aspire to!. What is all the HYPE anyway? What even is yoga?
My journey with yoga began when as an aspiring gymnast, I found a book on it when I was about 8. This was the beginning of the most established relationship to anything I have had my entire life. Im not saying through finding the book I became a yogi right there and then, but I definitely felt something shift after I ‘busted out’ some yoga moves with my sister, and this became something I would revisit whenever my life was falling apart, as a way of finding ‘me’ again. I recognised quickly that it was a way that I could hear my truth speak, and always a pathway to healing. Many people notice that after they practice yoga postures, they ‘feel’ different, and the way that this outplays for each one is as unique as each individual. Some might feel lighter, some might experience a release of emotion or a release of toxins, some may feel energised, other times, tired. It all depends on what you have going on in your life at any particular point in time: what injuries you are carrying, how heavy your emotional baggage, degree of stress, eating & sleeping habits, how ‘toxic’ you are, the style of practice, intensity and length. This is why no two yoga sessions are the same, each time we show up on our mat our experience will be different. You can be guaranteed that whenever you show up yoga asana will give you what you need. I once overheard in a studio change room the comment “you never regret going to a yoga class, but you always regret not going”, which I have found to be an absolute truth, though I would add that the same can be said for a ‘daily home practice’ too.
In the passage above, you may have noticed that I started to differentiate between ‘yoga’ and ‘yoga postures/asana’. This is because they are both the same yet different, and this is where some confusion starts to arise. To begin with, the way we view ‘yoga’ in western society is most often in reference to an ‘asana’ or yoga postures class. In truth this is what many of the sessions offer, the tip of the iceberg of ‘yoga’ – asana-based-only classes. And definitely that particular style has its time and its place for many practitioners. Though don’t be fooled into thinking that this is all that yoga is. Yoga in its entirety incorporates asana, meditation, breathing techniques, moral, ethical & behavioral ‘codes of conduct’, concentration, internal focus, and philosophy all leading the disciplined practitioner to a ‘lightening of the mind’ or enlightenment. For further expansion on this concept, type ‘8 limbs of Yoga’ into your search engine, that will offer a deeper understanding than what I have the space to offer here.
Another confusing element of yoga is the plethora of styles available. So much to choose from that for some it’s easier not to make a choice! A point to remember is that ALL styles of yoga asana draw from ‘hatha’ yoga – which means the union of the sun and the moon. Styles that I draw from when I teach are Iyengar(long holds, alignment based) Vinyasa (flow style – one posture flows into the next) Yin (very long holds, stretches connective tissue, tendons & ligaments – perfect for people seriously training in other fields – research shows it helps to build muscle) Restorative (long supported holds in a relaxed, supportive manner) Integrated ( using mixed mediums for maximum healing crystal bowls, rainstick’s, bells, chimes, Doterra Oils). I also maintain my own daily practice, read widely in the field of yogic philosophy and spirituality, and have mentors here in Perth that I check in with regularly. The best advice is – don’t get caught up on the ‘style’ – just get on your mat and ‘feel’ it out. There is a saying that I have found ‘satya’ truth in ‘When the student is ready the teacher will appear’.
Why people are attracted to the practice of yoga is as diverse as the people themselves. We may come to yoga with expectations of clearing our mind, losing weight, lessening stress or anxiety, to stretch, to learn something new or for some much need ‘time out’. As my pathway to yoga teacher progressed my reasons to practice and delve deeper changed also. To begin with, I was young & wanted to learn more ‘tricks’, though I had the body/mind awareness from my gymnastic training to realise that the asana led to peace of mind. Other times I have gone back to the mat for healing, weightloss, clarity, to destress, when depressed, coming out of addiction, to help me cope with challenging situations with my children or when my mum was dying, others it has been to tone up or just as purely exercise. And though I went through stages within my own love affair with yoga of where we were distant lovers, sometimes for quite large chunks of time, to times when it was that intense it was ‘all things healthy & yoga’, my own journey has led me to one simple truth.
My life works better on every level imaginable when I practice yoga.
I am more the person I came here to be. Less angry- more tolerant, less depressed -more content, less stressed – more peaceful, less anxious – more mindful, less critical, more accepting, less competitive- more compassionate, less possessive -more detached, more truthful, more gracious, more thankful more honest… my thoughts more positive than negative, my world view much more expansive than limited. I create what I want in my life, rather than spending bemoaning what I don’t have and without a doubt, I have created a life that I love!
Mandi Nelson works under her own name as well as the umbrella of ‘Cherish You’. She trained at Byron Bay Yoga Centre with John Ogilvie as a teacher in the Purna style of yoga (8 limbs) – a hatha based, alignment-focused practice combining breath, meditation, philosophy and asana 3yrs ago. She has had a relationship with yogic practices since she was 8 years old spanning some 35 years. She teaches regular ‘sacred fusion’ breath focused yoga & meditation classes and workshops in Perth & has taught in Byron Bay (Australia), Bali (Indonesia) & Siem Reap (Cambodia), utilising different yogic themes, sound, crystals, and essential oils – aromatherapy. She facilitates yoga and meditation retreats in India, Broome and Hawaii. Mandi is qualified level 1( 200 hours),Level 2 (500 hours) and Certificate IV (800hrs) in yoga asana, meditation, breath and philosophy and Cert. IV Yoga Teaching and is also independently qualified as a Transition Walker, Meditation Teacher, Holistic Counselling & Chair Yoga Teacher from ivHDD as well as having undertaken university studies in psychology, communications and youth work. Furthermore she works with couples and families through transitions, births and deaths and everything in between, as well as individuals in one on one healing/wellness/essential oils/meditation/yoga sessions, mentors up & coming teachers in training as well as holding space & conducting for more spiritual based ritual’s & ceremonial work, naming, passing’s, joining’s.
She has a strong interest in personal growth and to aspiring to be the best she can be, often attending and working with sound healers ‘, women circles and spiritual advancement groups whilst maintaining a daily yoga and meditation practice. She have practiced many styles of yoga over the many years of practice including iynegar, ashtanga, bikram, vinyasa, yin, kundalini, flow, power and restorative though her favourite is always “the one I am practicing right now”.
She has had the privilege and honour of filming the elderly and terminally ill for the past 8 years through the ‘cherish process”. This is a beautiful transitional gift to the recipients as well as the participant that truly and profoundly honour’s and celebrates a person’s life.
She also has so much respect and is deeply honoured to work closely with the local indigenous community” Biboolmirn People’. A self-confessed spiritual seeker from childhood, healer & spiritual midwife, health and wellness consultant, yoga teacher, she also works through the eye of a lens with a talented natural photographer, a videographer, an independent film-maker, and passionate humanitarian, often working voluntarily on projects close to her heart.
To learn more about Mandi, visit her website at www.cherishyou.global