I think I might have been brainwashed by Yoga classes… Not in the “I found an enlightened guru and gave him all my money” kind of way, but in a different way that I would like to share.
First of all, I am doing things in my life right now which I would have never thought I would be doing. If you told my 18 year old self that I would be going to Yoga classes, eat clean and throw away all of my stuff, I would have either laughed at you or I would have beaten you up and called you an idiot. The latter in my case sadly would’ve been more likely
I have started taking Yoga classes at university about two years ago. My first attempts at Yoga were because of curiosity. Also I wanted to have more core strength and flexibility. At this time, I was very much into martial arts, so I saw Yoga as an instrument to get a better, more flexible body and more core strength. The style I practiced at university was also something that suited me, it was Vinyasa Yoga which is a more dynamic style.
Due to a lot of injuries during martial arts, I somehow practiced less and less and around one year ago, in September 2011 I stopped altogether. It wasn’t fun anymore, not as it used to be. Also this time was a very stressful time for me in my life, so doing something I did not love was a waste of time for me then. Somehow my decision to quit the martial arts (after 12 years) did not affect my weekly Yoga classes. They were fun and relaxed and I got better quickly, and – ambitious as I am – I decided to join a proper Yoga studio and “do it right” instead of just going to university classes once a week.
I tried out a lot of different styles but decided that I liked Vinyasa Yoga best since it is dynamic and suits my needs for getting sweaty and challenging myself physically. I was and still am not so much interested in all this relaxing/meditation/spiritual enlightenment stuff. When there is too much chanting before and after a Yoga class I personally don’t like it – even though I sometimes chant along when I feel like it – and also when a Yoga teacher talks about chakra or energy fields or stuff like that I don’t like that either. I totally respect people who do Yoga because of the spiritual things you can learn and encounter, but for me my focus on Yoga is a very physical one, not a spiritual one.
I found the perfect studio for me in April 2012 where they are very easy-going about the spiritual stuff: If you don’t want to sing/hear anything about chakras/be enlightened you don’t have to but if you want to of course you can. Since they also offer an even more dynamic style of Yoga – Jivamukti Yoga – I just love going there.
Now, I stumbled upon a very popular TED talk of Amy Cuddy who talks about how changing your posture can change your mind. She applies it to winning poses and job interviews – how doing a winning pose for two minutes can change your testosterone and cortisol level and therefore makes you more stress-resistent for job-interviews.
If I apply this case-study to my situation of having started Yoga a while ago, it is no wonder that I am suddenly doing “strange”, “out of character” stuff. In my understanding, one of the principles they are teaching at Yoga is to “open up” your body. If you start doing Yoga (or maybe you are already doing Yoga in this case you know what I’m talking about), among other things you’ll be doing backbends and focus on getting your shoulder blades down and back and therefore opening your chest. Also Yoga is about getting more flexible, not only a more relaxed and flexible body but a more relaxed and flexible mind. Maybe this new openness of my body has something to do with me suddenly getting interested in minimalism and wanting to change my way of living? After having watched the talk twice here http://www.ted.com/talks/amy_cuddy_your_body_language_shapes_who_you_are.html I am convinced that there is definitely a connection between how we move our body and how this affects our mind.