Thomas Michael Fortel
is a longtime yoga practitioner/teacher, influenced by the Iyengar, Ashtanga, and Anusara styles of Hatha yoga, and drawing from his devotional experience in Bhakti yoga. He travels widely, sharing his love for yoga.
We can think of each of the yoga postures as a metaphor or an archetype embodied in physical posture: it may be the hero’s pose or the warrior, the eagle, or the posture of the sage. The practice of yoga clearly reflects the multiple layers of human existence, and it gives us a way of being in the world and in the life of spirit — alma — or soul. By doing the physical practice of asana (postures) and the breathing practice of pranayama, we are able to open the inner doors of understanding and potentially access the deeper meaning of our lives.
As we walk this pathway and journey of yoga — and engage the study of the self — we cross the broad terrain of the personality, ego, and soul. We see more clearly who we are in our daily lives and how we’re connected to the greater whole. Sometimes we find ourselves on the mountaintop, in blissful love and unconditional self-acceptance. At other times, we’re descending into the valley of darkness and learning to embrace hidden, or shadow, aspects of ourselves. The experiences of oneness and expansion are a huge support in these moments of deep reckoning.
In many ways, our whole lives are a series of doorways and passages into new or forgotten ways of being. Over time, the practices of yoga can create a softening of habits and patterns, a clarifying of mind, and a gradual opening of the spiritual lotuses (chakras). All of this can lead us to an expanded field of awareness beyond our personal ego, and into a wellspring of lifeforce and our place in the ocean of consciousness.