As a yoga teacher I work with the challenge we humans have of being present. This is the difficulty that the beginner practitioner also soon realizes. The asana practice makes it quickly tangible how the mind runs ahead of the breath and the physical movement. That’s why the practitioner gets out of breath and the movements become careless. If the mind calms down and settles into the breath and the body, the practice unfolds smoothly and one feels full.

For many people the presence doesn’t even seem important. It’s enough to be here more or less. Only when one realizes that one’s really never present here and now, one can ask oneself some questions. Can I go through my whole life without ever really meeting with myself? Can I spend my life beside myself?

The regular asana practice is probably hard for many precisely because it requires presence and to be present you should detach yourself from everything else. On the other hand the presence in the body is tough also when you have been outside of yourself for years and the subtle sensations of your body confuse you. When we realize the importance of the body in the entirety of being human we can use the asana practice to deepen our presence.

The presence in the body is actually much more demanding than mindfulness, because it means total awareness. Some people can close themselves in their minds and go on with being absent through thinking. The real presence includes the stream of consciousness, the sensations of the body, the emotions and the vital energy. Everything. Nothing is rejected.

I believe there are two basic reasons why people are not present in their body. One is because they have problems in their life and their mind is attached to their worries. Under these circumstances the absentmindedness is easily justified and ignored with a thought that as soon as the worries go away, one can (re-)start practicing yoga. As long as the problems are here, the yoga is not possible.

The other reason is because life is going so well. The mind is attached to the mental images of happiness and success and it seems the present moment doesn’t give more than these images. In these situations we think that when the period of happiness is over, then we can practice yoga. Right now it’s not worth it, we don’t have time nor patience.

The presence is actually something we choose to live. The circumstances will never be ideal. The outer conditions will always make us feel happy or unhappy. What counts is what happens inside of us. When life goes really well, we should be able to stop the hype inside of us to cultivate our presence. Because later when we face difficult times and feelings, we have already access to the always soothing reality through our presence. The images of unhappiness or threat don’t overwhelm us.

It’s only in the body this moment vibrates. But do we have the courage to surrender to our body? Do we have the courage to let go of the images and to be open to life?