In Australia, the seasons are reversed and cars drive on the left side of the road, but the use of Yoga to address the challenges of human life is the same. The first workshop I taught there in January explored how Yoga can be incorporated into every aspect of one’s life.
We took time to consider what we value most in this life and what we feel is its overall purpose. Most of us have only vague ideas of what is truly important to us. Clarifying this can be a powerful way to reflect on the choices we make and help us decide whether we are using our time and energy in harmony with our personal vision.
We then explored how the various branches of yoga can assist us in actualizing our full potential. For example, the practice of Karma Yoga trains us to give our full attention to each action and to consider the well-being of everyone rather than our personal desires. Raja Yoga develops our will power and self-discipline, enabling us to methodically let go of unhealthy attachments and realize our True Nature.
The practice of Bhakti Yoga can inspire us to put loving energy into whatever we do, and to feel reverence for the Divine Presence that is around and inside of us. As we develop faith in that Presence, we can humble our limited minds and more fully open our hearts to receive guidance from this deeper source.
Jnana Yoga trains us to become aware of our thoughts but not to identify them as who we are. If I can see that due to some past experience and the residual fear it left in me, I feel anxiety when I am stressed, I am free to choose how to respond to those anxious thoughts rather than be lost in the swirl of their stories.
The Australian group embraced these teachings with enthusiasm and each thought about ways to integrate these ideas into her/his own life. We can all benefit from a comprehensive approach to spiritual practice that develops our strengths while exposing our unhealthy tendencies, and from the support of a spiritual community to share the journey with.