According to the Advaita teachings of Hinduism, we all have one goal in life but there are many ways to achieve it. Everyone's goal in life is to be happy. It doesn't really matter how we came to be on Earth and living the life we do, the main aim is to be happy and find peace within ourselves.
Yoga helps to keep us grounded and strong so we can find that inner stillness which is where our true happiness resides. This is a happiness that is separate from desires and material things. It's a quiet place of confidence that we can always go back to.
Over my years of personal practice and my few years of teaching, I've managed to find a particular style that works for me; this being Sivananda. It's the form of yoga I always come back to and get the same buzz from. I have tried many other styles which have benefited me but not the same way Sivananda has. I love the teachings of Sivananda and they resonate deep within me.
However, over the last few months, life has got exceptionally busy and finding time to practice the Sivananda sequence has become next to non-existent. I've even had to miss my teacher's lessons which I've found really hard. I've had to adapt my practice to fit in around lots of other daily tasks. A huge part of me wants to escape and only do my practice in an Ashram or anywhere secluded. But I know that this is not the aim of yoga. It's not to shut yourself away and be separate from the world we live in. It's about unity. I have to stay where I am and adapt.
Using online videos
I've signed up for Ekhart Yoga so I can get a 20-30 minute practice in whenever I can. It's great because I don't have to intellectually think about what I want to do next in my sequence. I am being taught. I can let go and be in the moment.
Now this isn't a Sivananda online yoga place. This is an online yoga community for many yogis. There are thousands of videos to choose from from so many teachers. I can literally try any style I want for such a small fee per month.
Try new things
Some teachings teach that the mind needs repetition to create new grooves and new habits, these are known as samskaras. We have both negative and positive samskaras that make up who we are - they are the reason why we react the same in certain situations, why we struggle to change our bad habits and why we hold certain opinions. They are based on our past experiences, in this life and before. These samskaras create grooves like on a vinyl record that we automatically slip into. Our needle (mind) follows the same pattern as before. Having one form of yoga that you practice emphasises a new, positive samskara. Your mind doesn't need choice as this is a distraction. I agree wholeheartedly with this idea. And if you asked me after my teacher training, I would have rejected anything that wasn't Sivananda.
A few years later and my opinion has altered significantly. Creating that new samskara with only one form of yoga practice can create a whole other challenge. We can become complacent, bored or practice on auto-pilot. How are we then in the moment with our breath? I have found that, in the absence of not being able to connect with my teacher each week, Ekhart Yoga has been my rock. It offers me variety which keeps my practice fresh. It offers inspiration for my own teaching. It offers me the chance to explore my practice to another level.
I would encourage anyone who has a yoga practice to always try and keep it fresh. Finding the motivation some days can be hard. You have to try different things to keep you on this path in life. There is no harm in experimenting with varying practices. You might find something that really works for you. And isn't that what yoga is about? Accepting and building connection. The more you shun other ways of achieving the same goal of happiness, the more you are not actually practising yoga.
Ultimately, whenever I haven't practiced Sivananda in a while, I crave it. I can practice lots of styles through Ekhart Yoga but eventually I miss Sivananda and know I must return. This diversity of styles highlights to me how much Sivananda has impacted my life and that bond will never be broken.