The Magic of Yoga

Elena Dickie
Written by Elena Dickie

Ever wondered what it is about yoga that has made its popularity explode in the past few years?

Photo by Valeria Ushakova

Practising yoga has become much more common place in the past 4 years than it was in the previous 3 decades. There are very good reasons for it.  During the past decade we have moved from the Age of Pisces to the Age of Aquarius, and this, in itself, has meant a lot more uncertainty has had to be dealt with by all.  It also means that we are evolving and moving to a more spiritual, less materialistic way of being, but to get there, major structural and personal shake-ups need to happen.

The COVID pandemic and subsequent lockdown are just two of these big, unexpected events that humanity has had to deal with. The current cost of living crisis and global political unrest are two more examples of stressful, traumatic events that are directly or indirectly affecting us all.

The past three years have been unprecedented in terms of the unexpected happening, having to cope with the unknown, with fear and boredom, with lack of freedom, with financial difficulties and an uncertain future.  One way or the other we have all experienced some form of stress or trauma that has left a significant mark on our physical and energetic bodies.  During lockdown, people had more time to explore self-care and therefore a large number of us tried new things to help ourselves feel better… steadier.

More of us understood that it could help with anxiety, keeping fit and balanced.  As we continued to look for that hook that can help us make sense of the weirdness of the world we were living in; for that connection that could make us feel less lonely, uncertain, scared during lockdown, more and more of us turned to yoga.

But why?
Why has yoga’s popularity exploded?

As our collective anxiety levels have steadily grown, yoga has become hugely popular, hugely available, often accessible free of charge or for a minimal cost, providing immediate physical, mental and emotional relief, giving us a safe place to process life and take a breath.

And so, many of us have engaged with yoga, many for the first time, from taking up weekly classes to becoming a yoga teacher. The reasons behind this curiosity and need for learning more about yoga are manifold, but I believe that for most of us it was the pure magic that we experienced as we sat on our yoga mat for the first time. That first deep breath, that first stretch, that first meditation and that light, joyful feeling of deeper connection with ourselves was and remains pure magic and many of us felt a strong need to engage more regularly and deeply with it.

Photo by Vlada Karpovich

There are different types of yoga practices, ranging from Hatha, Kundalini, Ashtanga, Yin, Iyengar, Bikram, Kriya, Raja, Vinyasa, Restorative, Nidra and Hot yoga to name the most popular types available both on and offline. Something for everyone, depending on what the moment requires.

But what is it that makes yoga such a magical and deeply individually transformative experience?

Yoga is about union (this is what the word yoga means) – union of body, mind and soul, union of me and you, union of all humans, union with Mother Nature, with Creation, union with the Divine, with the Universe. Yoga is also about spirituality and finding answers. I could launch into a lengthy explanation of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, but let’s just say that all forms of yoga are somehow related to the Sutras and that these are a collection of short verses that serve as a guide to attain wisdom and self-realisation through yoga.

These verses are grouped under 4 main headings: Samadhi, Sadhana, Vibhuti and Kaivalya. Samadhi discusses the meaning of yoga with detail around meditation and enlightenment. Sadhana explains how to achieve a yogic state and introduces the 8 limbs of yoga. Vibhuti illustrates the benefit of regular practice and the power of manifestation through yoga. Finally Kaivalya focuses on liberation and freedom from suffering as the ultimate goals of yoga. Each time we practise yoga, we address these four fundamental concepts to bring calm, strength, focus and light in our lives.

Most people who are new to yoga will not necessarily be aware of or familiar with the concepts explained above and it really does not matter whether you are or not. What matters is that somehow you have been guided and attracted to the practice of yoga. 

This is how the magic begins – if you need it, yoga will find you and you will be guided to the practice that is right for you.

For some the practice starts as a purely physical one, where the goal is to improve flexibility, strength, stamina.  The spiritual side of yoga can be quite a surprise for some, and it is here that the magic continues!  When what started as a physical workout turns into a deeply personal, transformational journey it can be life changing for many. Experiencing increased awareness of who we are, where we fit in, what our role is in this life, or a desire to find this out can bring deep change, purpose and joy into our lives. Discovering the power of using our breath to connect more deeply with our soul, of using our voice or deep silence to tune into our intuition when asking for and receiving guidance; experiencing the joy of feeling our own physical body becoming stronger, more flexible, more resilient; that feeling of deep inner peace that many feel after practice is where the magic continues to happen, evolve and bring real spark to our lives.

Photo by Yan Krukau

Yoga is where we become one, and when we practice in a group, the group becomes one; we unite, all differences and dualities are eliminated, and we recognise each other as part of the same whole.

And this is the true magic of yoga – union, connection, liberation, inner peace, joy, love.

We discover and become part of a new community, one that we feel deeply connected to without the need for spoken words, where we are all united by the magic that we experience together.

Main – Image by Renata Hille from Pixabay