I tried my first Yoga class in 1987, and thoroughly disliked it - as far as I could see, it was nothing but funless grind. For ten years I went to one or two yoga classes per year and couldn’t stand it, year after year.
Weird that I kept going back, you might think, and you’d be right. But as bizarre as it might be, there was a reason behind the madness: I continued trying Yoga every year, despite my dislike of it, because I was absolutely convinced that Yoga was something I needed. I didn’t know precisely why, but in my heart I was certain of it (and I can tell you now, that I was right - it just took me a decade to prove myself right!).
Looking back, the mistake I made was going to the same Yoga school year after year, not realising that there are many different styles of Yoga and that one simply wasn't suited to me.
Then in 1997 everything changed when I was given a flier for an Ashtanga Yoga centre in Sydney called Yoga Mat. I tried a class and loved it! (Ashtanga is - as is all physical Yoga - Hatha Yoga with "Ashtanga" simply being the 'brand name' of this dynamic and challenging style of Yoga.)
Ashtanga involves set sequences, so coming from Bellydance I was drawn to it immediately because it felt like a choreography. These days I enjoy, appreciate and participate in many different styles of Yoga, but it was via Ashtanga that Yoga finally made sense to me.
So, after my experience with some Ashtanga classes, I started practicing regularly. Almost 10 years later (in 2007) I did my teacher training certificate at Samadhi Yoga in Sydney (now Jivamukti Yoga Sydney - an offshoot of the original Jivamukti Yoga in New York City) and became a Yoga teacher.
Below are three audios of me chanting. Please find a quiet spot, sit in a comfortable position, close your eyes, and chant with me. You can also view these chants along with their meaning on YouTube if you click here: Yoga Chants. Namaste!
Yoga is much more than a physical practice - there's a whole philosophy behind it too. You can delve into this by reading some of the many books on Yoga out there. But to give you a taste, check out the Yoga quotations on this page: Yoga Quotations.
Yoga Gems by Georg Feuerstein
“...There are two kinds of doubt: destructive and constructive. Destructive doubt is habitual scepticism...Constructive doubt is intelligent questioning and fair examination. Those who cultivate that attitude do not...accept as valid the opinions of others...[they] base their conclusions on test and personal experience: the proper approach to truth.”
"It takes spiritual maturity to embrace difficulties and to see within them potential for enlightenment. The greatest spiritual growth can come from appreciating difficult times in your life and facing them fully with an open heart."
"Lokah Samasta Sukhino Bhavantu [is a powerful Sanskrit mantra which means:] 'May all beings, everywhere, be happy and free. And may the thoughts and actions of my own life contribute, in some way, to that happiness and to that freedom for all'."
"Your present situation is the solution, not the problem...because it's an opportunity for us to learn, though experience, how it really feels to suffer from a particular experience. By suffering we learn compassion, which brings us closer to all beings."
"We cannot change what we have done in the past and there is no point in feeling guilty about it. What we can do is start living compassionate lives right now."
The Eight Human Talents by Gurmukh
"To carry a grudge is like being stung to death by one bee."
"Learn to give up blame so that you can find your own truth and live it."
Spirituality And The City by Katie Spiers
“Even if you’re not a mother yourself, each of us had one once! Many of the animals mistreated by farming are mothers. We take their milk, their eggs, and, most disturbingly, we take their children to kill and eat without a second thought... [Veganism] is an important part of a serious spiritual practice...”
No human can do the following Yoga poses like a dog can, so I thought I'd sit this one out and let my dogs show you how they're done.
In the dog world, this is called 'Doga'!
In the words of Mahatma Gandhi:
SAY NO TO PUPPY MILLS! SAY NO TO ANIMALS IN PETSHOPS! SAY NO TO BREEDERS!
Adopt a homeless animal instead - they all deserve a second chance
It's estimated that 130,000 dogs and 60,000 cats are killed every year in Australia because there are not enough homes for them all. And the global numbers amount to millions upon millions every single year.
Puppy mills are a major contributor to the terrible problem of overpopulation. Puppy mills are essentially 'dog factories' where dogs are forced to churn out litter after litter, with no thought for the welfare of the dogs and all thought for profit. The dogs live in appallingly dirty, cramped conditions all their lives, and when they no longer serve their purpose they're killed, dumped or sold to vivisection laboratories.
Petshops fit into the picture because puppy mills are generally where petshops get their animals from. Furthermore, having animals in shop windows encourages impulse purchases, and adding an animal to your family should be a conscious, careful decision - NOT one to be made while shoe shopping.
Breeders contribute enormously to the tragic statistics above too. And it doesn't matter whether they're professional breeders or backyard breeders, and whether they breed for profit or not, because while there are homeless animals sitting on death row in shelters, any and all animal breeding is utterly irresponsible.
Now, here's where you come in. You can either be part of the problem or part of the solution. You can either buy animals from puppy mills, petshops or breeders and be part of the problem. Or you can adopt from a shelter or rescue organisation and be part of the solution.
If I haven't convinced you, visit your local shelter to see the homeless animals. Let their innocent faces convince you that adopting is the only responsible choice to make.
"To my mind, the life of
a lamb is no less precious than that of a human being."
All information and photos are copyright © Despina Rosales.