by Pelin Turgut.
Yoga, spirituality, and meditation have gotten a bit of a wellness reputation as of late, with there being a tendency to put yoga classes and relaxing massages in the same category; two things that make you feel good. Which isn’t necessarily a criticism, both work with the body, there’s often relaxing music involved, and there’s nothing wrong with feeling good.
Today, however, I’d like to talk about the deeper benefits of practice, and how it can help you when the going gets tough.
Throughout all spiritual traditions, serious seekers experience difficulties. From a dying Christ asking why he has been forsaken, the suffering many early Saints endured, Socrates being condemned for corrupting the youth of Athens, ancient mythologies of heroes who venture to the underworld and face more challenges than we can imagine, and every yogi who has a deep, and sometimes painful yearning for the Divine.
Not to mention that life, well, happens. Loved ones get sick, jobs get lost, relationships break down. No one said it would be easy!
So how can spiritual practice help us navigate both the existential dark night of the soul, and the day-to-day challenges we all encounter?
One of the most beautiful things about Tantra Hatha Yoga is that it is designed for life, the goal of Tantra is to thrive, to be embodied, to be both attuned to the delights of silence and delights of sound, the hustle and bustle, the ordinary. It’s not about escaping, it’s about being here on Earth, in life, facing, creating, and navigating all that comes our way, the so-called good and bad.
Tantra Hatha Yoga has much to offer. It is a tool for awakening and growth.
Here are three ways a consistent practice can help you in your day-to-day life.
1. It makes you more resilient
Through specifically sequenced asana and pranayama practices, we work with the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous system, bring it back it homeostasis.
For instance, Moon classes attend to the parasympathetic nervous system, which is also known as the rest and digest side of the nervous system. In order to relax, to heal, to release, we must engage the parasympathetic nervous system. We do this through forward folds, long exhales, and specific breathing practices which all bring about not just a momentary feeling of calm, but a longer term relaxation and release.
Sun classes, on the other hand, engage the sympathetic nervous system, which is more active and dynamic, concerned with action, energy, and doing. We do this through backbends, longer inhales, and specific practices, designed to leave you feeling energised, charged up, strong, and ready to engage, building energy in the vessel that is your body, that you may have more resources at your disposal.
Through working with the nervous system in this deliberate way, you become more resilient, as your nervous system is healthier, meaning when challenges do your way you’re not instantly triggered into a trauma response.
2. It gives you stability and clarity
A consistent practice might at first feel like a task, something you have to do, but as you go deeper into it, it becomes your rock, your support system, something that helps you.
Your regular time on the mat, or your meditation cushion, becomes something you look forward to, and the benefits compound over time. A regular meditation practice, for example, will leave you feeling clearer, less attached to your thoughts, and less, well, messy. You start to access something deeper, stiller, and wiser, and you start to live from that place, from that consciousness.
Suddenly, your decisions aren’t being made from a place of stress, reactivity, or confusion, but from a place of clarity, wisdom, and stillness. Something happens that you normally would have reacted to, and you find yourself not getting triggered, having more time and space between what happened, and seeing options and solutions that were not previously available to you.
3. It changes how you engage with life
Tantra is all about life. Living life in HD, full colour, and to the fullest, not in a hedonistic way, but as a way to honour the gift of being human, and a desire to be present. Tantra is life affirming. With a regular practice, you’ll find how you engage with life changes. Of course difficult things will still happen, but how you relate to them will change. There can be a tendency in spirituality to only want the good, the “love+light”. Tantra includes it all, and asks that we meet all sides of the human experience, the “good” and the “bad”, the easy and the challenging.
To feel the heartbreak, the loss, the anger, and let it move through us. To see what it has to teach us, what unhealed, unloved parts of ourselves are asking for attention.
Through a regular practice, your life becomes your sadhana. No longer confined to your altar, or yoga mat, your life is your spiritual practice. The ground on which you walk is the altar, and you are the constant offering. Offering yourself to life, giving your presence to what is in front of you, and being willing to meet, and transform whatever comes your way.
Difficult people become mirrors, challenges become opportunities for growth, ad your capacity to embrace and hold it all begins to blossom.
This is how practice can help you in the hard times.
It makes you more resilient, and better able to meet a challenge. It grounds you, and brings clarity and stability, and it changes the way you engage with life itself.
What if your life were your sadhana? What if spiritual teachings weren’t confined to books and workshops, but were instead something we lived.
If we practiced when it’s easy, and when it’s hard, until our practices become part of us, and we can go forth into the world, solid, clear, and curious, and make the most of this precious life.
If you want to dive deeper into Tantric Hatha Yoga Practices, save the date for the 3 day Silent Retreat from 10th to 12th of April 2020 in stunning Alami Boutique Villas and Resort.