What is Yoga?
29th Sept 2020
My friend and I were talking last week, I asked him what’s your yoga about? 20 minutes later with words such as “reconnection, refuge, release and inclusive” thrown around I was reminded of one of our British Wheel of Yoga assignments we had to complete on our 500hr teacher training. What is yoga? A question continually asked over the 2 years which got harder to answer each time.
There’s hundreds of quotes from yoga philosophy, teachers and gurus of the past, but would this make sense if your experience of yoga up until this point had been the images we see on social media?
Those fast powerful flows on youtube and the endless pictures of headstands floating around the internet are one tiny part of one persons own tiny experience of what they perceive to be what yoga should look like.
I could write another post on the word yoga meaning “yoking” and “union” but the internet is full of those. Google at your leisure. My favourite description (currently) was sent from one of my teachers,
“The practice is an exploration or self enquiry into the connection of the mind, body and breath, working together in harmony – without distraction.”
So, should I be writing about what the goal is instead?
Yoga is both the path, the means, and the destination. Paradoxical…
Still unclear right?! Best way to explore this is to get on your mat, bring all your mental junk along for the ride, explore the moves, try an odd pranayama (breath) practice even if you don’t understand the point, try it 100’s of times. Fall over, wobble, get frustrated, have a cry, laugh too, ask yourself how do I feel now? Be wildly playful.
Bit by bit it all makes more sense. It’s not your ability to fold yourself into shapes, it’s the way these shapes make you feel, the focus needed to remain in the ‘now’ rather than thinking about what you’re going to have for your dinner and the huge pile of washing you ‘should’ be doing.
Yoga lets us create space. physically and mentally so what we practice on our mats we get good at in life. This is succinctly explained by the man who pioneered modern yoga, TKV Desikachar.
“The success of Yoga does not lie in the ability to perform postures but in how it positively changes the way we live our life and our relationships.”