teacher feature – anne thiel

“i have never understood what yoga is really all about,” a friend of mine remarked to me recently. i was stunned, helplessly reaching for an answer. what to say? where to begin? how to explain that this practice which does not, should not and in all likelihood will not – even if we want it to – stop at the physical level, but will reach deeper layers of our beings, will affect our thoughts, emotions and – dare i say it – our spirit, our soul? how to explain that it is not about getting a good workout, not achieving the perfect posture, but about the practice, the discipline – discipline as in “training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character,” but also as in “disciple,” an “adherent of a school,” i.e. somebody who is curious and eager to learn?

while i find myself scrambling for an answer, i remember others who have explained it better than i ever could.

in his book yoga: the spirit and practice of moving into stillness, erich schiffmann writes: “the purpose of yoga is to facilitate the profound inner relaxation that accompanies fearlessness. the release from fear is what finally precipitates the full flowering of love. in this state, you will love what you see in others, and others will love you for having been seen. … the apparently simple benefits that accrue from the regular practice of yoga can change your life in very profound ways… yoga will make you sensitive to the stillness, the presence, the hush, the peace of god. this deep inner stillness is at the core of your being. it is the ground, the joy of your being.”

and my dear friend and fellow teacher danielle once summed it up very aptly in just a few words: “in yoga, we try to bring peace into our body, so we can find peace in our mind.”

as you step onto your yoga mat this month, as you take your seat, reach your arms up high to the sky in your surya namaskar, i invite you to ponder this question “what is this really all about?”
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anne is an ayurvedic lifestyle consultant as well as a yoga teacher at tranquil space.

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