I had a desire for something more in my life. I was in a period where I did not understand my mind, or body. I felt the need for more movement, more freedom, and a new experience.  I went to a few yoga classes and I felt like I had scratched an itch, but I was only looking at the surface trying to peek through the windows of wisdom. Little did I know then that I was missing the groundwork to support my practice. I was missing essential elements of yoga.  Slowly I reached a plateau in my practice, and truly, my practice started to crumble.  My ache for more started to grow, and this time I didn’t want to scratch the surface. 

I was seeking the basic foundations of yoga to support my practice. I knew that there was more than asana and blasted social media images of advanced poses.  I felt like I was standing on the sidewalk looking at an elegant house, but I couldn’t get inside. I could see the surface level of western yoga, but I was ready to walk through the front door or bust a window to see the inside.  And I did, I threw a rock through the window and busted into the philosophy of yoga. I started to understand the yamas and niyamas, the history of yoga, the ancient wisdom.  I also began to develop an understanding of why we do classic asana, and how the body moves cohesively.  I could interpret in my own way how yoga affected the mind. I could also grasp how and why the body should move.  I was able to look inside the house to see the beautiful rooms. However, I still didn’t understand how the house was standing. 

I had great pieces of knowledge when it came to yoga. But they are only pieces, and I am still in the midst of understanding the foundational base of yoga.  Over the past months of 500-hour teacher training, with Yoga North, I have seen the base layer of yoga.  In my own opinion there are a few foundational elements of yoga to understand; the soma, the philosophy, and the wisdom.

I believe there is the base layer of the soma. Through the study of anatomy and psychology, I have developed a considerate amount of knowledge, but this seems like looking at the floorboards wondering what is underneath. So, to go even further the students of 500-hour teacher training had the opportunity to experience the cadaver lab. In this experience I gained a greater appreciation for the human body and the complexity of it.  The intricate patterns of the facia, the muscle groups, and the entire system as a whole were unlike anything you could see in a book. As for the mind, the vastness reaches beyond our consciousness. There is more to the mind than the organ of the brain. To understand how parts of the mind intertwine and work together have allowed me to see past the floor I stand on. I have been able to experience and see bodies from the outside, but I now can recognize how understanding the human experience and the sophistication of it is a foundational pillar.

As for the philosophy, reading ancient text like The Vedas, The Sutras, and The Gita have generated this deep-rooted sense of connection. To know that yoga is a long-standing practice is comforting. For thousands of years yogis have found peace, understanding, and wisdom through yoga.  Lastly, I believe the third foundational structure is the wisdom. I believe there is wisdom in the soma, and the philosophy, but also beyond that.  Wisdom was gained by those that came before us; understanding their path to the Self, their struggles and achievements can help lead others to the Self. Wisdom is from gurus in the present, those who we seek to gain insight to the Self, and self. Wisdom is from peers; how can we learn from others in this world to simply be better. And ultimately, wisdom is from yourself; the inherent wisdom we have within ourselves and have to unlock. 

The soma, philosophy, and wisdom are my own support beams for deepening my awareness of myself, and the Self. I have to learn how to piece together all the layers of knowledge to make a whole conscious understanding. I need to be able to walk through the house to see the interior, the exterior, and the foundation to get a comprehensive reality. I have understood how I lacked the foundational aspects of yoga, and why my practice was crumbling.  In my own practice the soma, philosophy, and wisdom are what have held my practice standing tall. In what feels like my root desire to reach the Self, these foundational pieces guide me in the direction.

Yoga North ISYI Allie Dittmer

** Allie Dittmer is currently enrolled in Yoga North’s +350/500 Hour/Level I Yoga Therapy Training **