When we talk about yoga, there is always one word that is repeated all the time and that is experience or experiential. We hear that yoga should be experienced rather than a cerebral pursuit or just exercise or a religion. But, how can you actually experience yoga in a way that suits your nature and gives you the appropriate benefits that makes yoga successful?
A place to start your personal experience is to realize that you can chose how you want to participate in yoga either in a mild, medium or intense manner. All choices are good and depend really on time and commitment levels.
Then, the next step is to begin to obtain a realization of the state of your mind. Yoga is a practice to find peace, harmony , and consciousness, but if one’s mind is clouded by worldly desire, negativity ,attachments and fears then the ability to experience yoga is greatly diminished. So, we start to alter the negative thoughts into a smooth flow of positive thoughts and then lessen the awareness of the results of our practices and finally find humility with the experience .
Yoga is a vast practice and system so we can make a choice as to what part of yoga attracts you the most. If the asanas or yoga postures are your favourite and you sense a natural relation to this, then this is your yoga. Then as you pursue this your experience can become one of seeing the physical changes that occur along with the improvement in overall health and the change in your mental state.As part of yoga though, the ideal way to practice is to have this physical improvement, along with the awareness of change, without the attachment .
Another part of yoga begins with the understanding that yoga is not a religion but a science, a large systematic practice that has structure, direction , tools and verifiable results. To establish a beneficial experience with this yogic approach, you can choose which of the many yoga practices best suit your health needs and temperament. If physical well-being is your motivation then try some cleansing practice such as jal neti, or if you feel a spiritual need then practice japa and attend kirtan. The beauty of yoga is that there is some practice that will help you ,but choose the ones that that feel most comfortable and help you to remain balanced and centered.
If you have a more intellectual interest, reading the yogic scriptures such as the Bahagava Gita or Vedanta Philosophy will provide knowledge to assist you to deal with life’s challenges. To fully experience the jhana or study aspect of yoga one approach is to not simple read and memorize information but to let the act of reading become a meditation and contemplation where the words slowly integrate into mind, which increases awareness without creating random thoughts.
The last suggestion for how to find true experience is to allow yourself to enjoy and discover yoga with an open heart, acceptance, laughter and joy. As the more subtle aspects of yoga begin to become entrenched into your psyche, feel this change and bathe in the warm glow that spreads from your heart and throughout your being.