More Alive

by Gurudevi Nirmalananda  & Swami Shrutananda (the yogi formerly known as Vidyadevi)

When you feel more joyous, you feel more alive.  You already experience this sometimes, but look a little more closely at the feeling of being more alive compared to less alive.  Most people are looking for life’s events to make them feel more alive.

Some people push the limit in order to get that feeling of aliveness; if you are hanging onto the side of a cliff with your fingers and toes you have to be 120% there!  While adrenaline is involved, there is another quality as well.  On the edge, for many people, provides a quality of hyper-aliveness.  Adrenaline junkies do things like jumping out of airplanes (skydiving), ski avalanches, bungee jumping, etc.

People also do things to feel less alive, to numb themselves out, because their life is too painful.  People take alcohol and drugs, sleep a lot, withdraw from others and avoid participating in life, etc. They do things to make themselves feel less alive.

What if they could give you a psychological self-assessment test for “more alive”?  You already know that yoga makes your body more flexible, makes your digestion work better, makes your breath move more fully and makes your heart pump more efficiently (and therefore more easily). Your stress chemicals are down and your endorphins are up, your muscles are working efficiently and you feel your body in a whole new way.  Your body is more alive! You are more alive!  You are more present in it!

How does yoga do this?  With a fast-paced yoga practice, you might think it’s like exercise.  With Svaroopa® yoga, you might think it’s because you are in a quiet room with spiritual music and stacks of plaid blankets.  But when you think this way, your mind has again gone looking for the environment to make you joyous and alive. This is not what makes yoga work.

It’s easy to see with Svaroopa® yoga.  It makes you both more joyous and more alive because it gives you the inner experience of your own Self, svaroopa.  When you experience your own Self as Consciousness-Itself, you draw from the deepest dimension of your own being, which automatically makes you be more present, more alive, more joyous – more you!  Shankaracharya wrote about this over 1,300 years ago,

“That Supreme Reality, which has become everything that exists, has become you, and is manifesting as you, through your body…”[1]

Since your yoga makes you both more joyous and more alive, now you don’t have to look for other people to give you a fix. You no longer step into the world feeling needy and dependent, waiting for something to make you feel better.  Yoga makes you feel better before you step out, so you go into the world carrying that sense of inner fullness with you.  You have something to share.

Vidyadevi describes, “A few years ago I had a yoga therapy client who always came in for an Embodyment® yoga therapy session before her in-laws came over for dinner.  This event was not a joyous occasion for her.  She planned the therapy session, not for her body, but to change her inner state.  From that deeper state she was able to allow the evening to play out, yet be fully joyous, fully alive and fully present.”

This all happens because of what the sage Shankaracharya describes,

“There is a self-existent Reality that is the foundation of your own inner sense of self. This self-existent Reality is your very Self.”  — Vivekachudamani

This is the way a yogi lives in the world.  What a way to live!

Do more yoga.


Originally published November 2014

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