What is yoga? The short answer is yoga directly translates to “yoke” “unite”. As a practitioner and someone who works in wellness, I find myself asking this question and often end up with many answers - because what exactly are we uniting? The mind with the body? Or the body with the mind? The mind & body with the divine? And what does that look like?
Photography: Rahel Studhalter
Location: Kalametiya, Sri Lanka
The ancient texts bring clarity to these questions to a certain extent but navigating through modern day challenges even with the integration of yoga can be…..well, challenging. Since it’s retreat season in Sri Lanka I wanted to give my two cents on what yoga looks like to me, why I do what I do and of course talk a little bit about an upcoming retreat (I promise to make this brief).
What is yoga to me
I first stepped into yoga as a discipline to address a more conscious way of taking care of my wellbeing. Before yoga, I have been a practitioner of Thai kickboxing and an avid meditator for a good part of my adult life. I learned early on the importance of breathing right - whether it is in a “dojo” to assess the fighters I faced or in the quiet mountains where I first sat down to assess the fight within. I was quite disciplined because of this knowledge until I started in a high stress corporate career that exposed me to a different set of fears. The sheer volume & pace of work overwhelmed my being to a point where I ended up with a stress related illness - along with the realization that I haven’t really synchronized my mind & body into my discipline - they have been working separately with so much resistance. I needed to reset and find a better way to create a sound body and a sound mind.
What may have started as a thirty minute practice on the mat (shoutout to Yoga Tim), opened me up to the possibilities of integrating conscious breathing with movement - and it made moving through life a lot more graceful. A few years later, I became a practitioner and an advocate for yoga as a routine building discipline simply because it has elevated the quality of my life.
Accessing the mind & body through yoga
I don’t think we need an explanation of what exercise does to our body; we’ve all felt the endorphin rush after a simple walk, an intense workout, or basically doing anything that makes us break a sweat. I see yoga as a much needed addition to this endorphin rush to reset or align ourselves - simply put, to feel good.
Yoga in its core is a practice that connects us to a higher reality by way of “fusing” the mind & body. Yoga may seem like a daunting task for a beginner and it certainly doesn’t help how social media has portrayed the message of yoga mainly as a contortive practice. But yoga is much much more; beyond the aesthetically pleasing poses is a greater truth - sound mind & body is not only possible, “yoking” them is what creates a harmonious life.
Photography: Rahel Studhalter
Location: Elements Kalametiya
A sound body can be achieved through yoga by practicing various asanas (postures) and the main purpose of asana/postures is to increase the range of motion in your body. It is a form of exercise that is only possible if you slow down your breath, be conscious of it in relation to the movement of the body. This naturally creates a sound mind which in return creates space, patience & mental clarity to understand your own body; the possibilities, limitations & different ways to reach the benefits of asana. It becomes a conversation between the mind & body; a dialogue where both hold space to listen & respond. It is your mind/body doing what it’s optimally designed to do.
“Reset, readjust, restart, refocus, as many times you need to”
Two years ago, I co-founded Konectiv Wellness and hosted retreats, workshops & sharing circles. I have witnessed the power of togetherness; how we all have the capacity to hold space, learn and integrate new habits so we can start again. And how we can spark new connections and exist in the realm of collective healing, evolving & living; it is why I continue to do this rewarding work.
After a few challenging months for Sri Lanka and her people, I want to once again start holding space for people who are looking to build a routine through yoga, meditation and self & collective exploration. If you are a beginner or on the path of yoga, I invite you to join us on the 28th of October to reset your daily routine, to introduce a conscious practice into your life, to create a sound mind in a sound body.
Retreat collaboration with Mindful Reset Retreats. A portion of the earnings will go towards making wellness accessible to Sri Lankan communities.