Photo Toni Otero
Translated from the spanish original issue
A temple signifies a piece of the sky, known to be sacred. Imagine the edge of the sky outlined by primitive rocks, making a circular threshold. For us, the yoga mat is an equally sacred piece of the ground.
I remember passing through Paharganj in the middle of the craziness of New Delhi. As you can imagine, there were motorcars, temples, cows, civilians, police, soldiers, school children, panhandlers, tourists, cyclists, and even elephants. And off in the distance, past the bazars, hotels and stalls, was an escape to tranquility, in the temple of the Ramakrishna Foundation.
There are occasions when our life is like Paharganji; a tremendous ruckus filled with confusions of life’s daily struggles. Sometimes we are like peaceful warriors, looking for a sanctuary where we can activate the principals of our practice: concentration, attention, patience, fairness, moderation, contentment.
The constant hustle and bustle leaves us anxiously awaiting the sound of the gong, the bell, the sat namm, the om namo shivaya. We need the sound to pierce the threshold of the sacred ground where we lie. We need it to salvage our internal fight, to recompose ourselves, and heal our wounds.
For me it was in the Amithabha Center, on those wall-to-wall green carpets, those old sky-blue yoga mats, with the excellent teacher Concepcion Ruiz (to honor my first teacher); this was when I met Yoga for the first time. And years later, when I traveled to the Amazon or the Himalayas, or wherever I wanted to go, a yoga mat or a doubled-over blanket used as a meditation cushion, almost immediately took me back to a magical home. Not any old home, but my true home, my own center, a place to feel like myself and find my true pristine equilibrium.
Since then, wherever I unroll it, my yoga mat has always been my temple, my confidence, and my oracle. It is a holy place to obtain sacred advice, to clear my mind of dilemmas, to tune into my intuition and the light that guides me.
In the end, those who visit their temple with frequency understand the walls and doors of a neighborhood are translucent. Strength gained from our temple and our practice begins overflowing through the walls built around an area, and spreading all over the globe. Our practice extends equally towards the humble and the hostile, as they are both capable of housing the tutelary gods. Just like altars that can be set up either in forests, deserts, peaks or battle fields.
After cleansing our bodies and souls during the practice of yoga, we are relaxed. We chant the mantra ‘Om’ and return to our homes with a relaxed and positive energy. At first yoga is simply a clean coat of paint on our bodies, but after years of practice it turns into an unforgettable tattoo.
Our feet leave the mat but continue being firm and steady. Our lungs that chanted Om continue breathing deeply. The muscles and bones that do not tremble during difficult balancing postures maintain steady during overloaded and busy days. Our mind remembers that we should not give into emotional fits of anger.
Thanks, honor and gratitude to all of the Rishis and teachers that grow and pass on from generation to generation the blessed practice of Yoga.
Joaquín García Weil is a licensed Philosopher, yoga professor, and director of the studio YogaSala Málaga, Spain. He is a student of Swami Rudradev, Yoga Study Center in Rishikesh, India. He also studied with Dr. Vagish Sastri from Benares, India, in addition to others.