Yoga is the settling of the mind into silence . . . our essential nature is usually overshadowed by the activity of the mind.
~Patanjali, Yoga Sutras
In our lives, we have many different “selves”: our work selves, our family selves, our public selves, and so on. Each comes with its baggage, its duties, its preoccupations, its stories, but at the center of each is the simple self: the part of us that quietly sits in the center and waits to be called on. Like placid water, our simple self can reflect the world calmly, show it for what it is, and help us to act wisely. It is not different than the other selves; rather it is the most essential part, the core from which all other selves must draw their energy and purpose.
Yoga and tai chi are time-honored methods for settling the mind, allowing people to return to this essential nature. Because the nature of the mind is to draw us away from our simple self in order to engage in the outside activities (planing, regretting, worrying, checking social media), yoga and tai chi work to calm the mind by focusing on the basic messages and sensations of the rest of the body in stillness and movement.
Yoga and tai chi will likely improve your balance, your flexibility, and maybe even your strength, but the greatest benefit of these practices is the way they help us to cultivate clarity, wisdom, and stability.
About the Instructor: Thomas Pitcher, RYT-200
I have been practicing yoga for 18 years, tai chi for 9 years and teaching both for 9 years, in group classes with Wellspring Wisconsin, High Vibe Fitness and in private lessons for members of the Platteville community.
As of December 2016, I was certified as a Registered Yoga Teacher after a 200-hour training with Alignment Yoga, a school that tailors yoga to Westerners. From Alignment Yoga, I’ve learned to honor the wisdom of simplicity; in particular, that people learn more when lessons focus on a single theme or concept and when postures are accessible to everyone’s unique anatomy and level of experience. I aim to help students develop skills of self-inquiry about their bodies so that they can approach movement and postures in a way that is most supportive for their own practice.