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Why DO YOU practice yoga?

Someone asked me just recently: Why do you practice yoga, Karina? And I didn't have the immediate, clear answer that one would think I should have. In Norwegian we have a saying, when you're kind of... out of words, you're "svar skyldig". It means you owe somenoe an answer. That's how I felt, I owed and should have a good answer to this. It was a private client who asked, and all I could say was: I have to think about it...

I have thought a little, and are still thinking about it.

Throughout the years of practicing and teaching yoga, what has come to make most sense is to encourage people to try and understand what, how and why? Inspired by, and coming from teachers who's challenged my understanding of 'what and why'. I practice and teach a dynamic, physical style of yoga; where the general trends of 'dos' and don't are constantly evolving and changing. As they should, as life does! I don't believe in 'one fits all', but rather letting your yoga-practice be a point of exploration, trying to make sense of it all. Be it making sense of body, movement and shape-making, or mind, breath and sensations. Simply (or not so simple) making sense of you, yourself in the world, and how to be in this world. A world, which at this point often doesn't make much sense at all.. But that's maybe for another writing.

In a class or sequence this might be translated to the example of any given asana or shape, that can be done in several variations; are you doing it for strength or flexibility? Do you consider what comes next or where the sequence is going? Do you have bodily awareness and ability to get into the desired shape or variation? Most frequent question I will ask in class is: Are you breathing? If not, would you consider slowing down (or even stop) to explore when and why you stoped breathing?

My preferred or chosen style of practice is a physical, dynamic also known as a vinyasa based method; add some music, food for thought, call it Jivamukti and you'll have my undivided attention ;) I enjoy a more slow paced practice from time to time. I have stoped and reflected that I need to slow down, and so I have put more emphasises on a consistent meditation practice. I have also reflected that a physical and mentally, challenging practice which allows me to explore the limits of my body and mind, brings me immense fun and joy. Fun and joy inspires my commitment, dedication and consistency to the practice.

After years of trying to study ancient, yogic wisdom and texts, not finding much sense in them other than this is what a yogateacher should be reading and know about. I now love delving into the philosophy by reading a whole lot of different books and texts. Coming from both ancient and contemporary, eastern and western perspectives.

As to the question of enlightenment and divinity in this world, in this life, I'm still trying to make sense of it. I struggle with the history of power, inequality, and still ongoing oppression and exploitation by humankind. All in the names of all kinds of divine. I am in awe of, and find immense sense of calm and wonder by watching the seasons change outside my window. Currently going into full bloom from spring to summer in the northern hemisphere, after an extremely long, cold and brutal winter. It gives me great inner peace to think that I am too, just an expression of this shifting life of nature. And there's nothing I can do, to ever change that. When I let my thoughts wonder in this direction, the only thing that makes sense is to relax, breathe and just be.

Thank you Stephanie, for throwing the question right back at me!


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