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.
When most people hear the word yoga, they immediately think of stretching the body. While lengthening the muscular system is an aspect of yoga practice, it is a small part of what yoga is about. The ancient yogis developed the practice as a purifying agent to cleanse the nadis (energy channels) and chakras (energy centers) in preparation for the body to receive and hold the light of divine consciousness. To be a ready vessel for this powerful light, it was taught, one must be purified.
One of the fundamental tenets of yoga philosophy is that every human being is, at the core, an expression of divine light and love. The yogis refer to this as the Supreme Self or Inner Self. Many of us glimpse this from time to time, yet a primary focus of our journey is to honestly address the physical, mental, and emotional heaviness which covers up our inner luminosity. This is a necessary paradigm shift as we move into a fuller expression of our true nature.
One of the great benefits of ongoing yoga practice is the development of our ability to pause, and to rest in the posture of observation: an inner state of conscious awareness. This can mean being in a place of deep relaxation, yet alert and aware as we observe our inner reality and outer environment. Yogically speaking, this occurs primarily through the practices of pranayama (conscious breathing), dyana (meditation), and asanas, the postures of yoga.