What is yoga, really?

What is yoga, really?

When we think of the yoga practice so many people think of strictly the physical/asana practice. It’s gotta be our culture. Look at how we are constantly going and doing. Moving from one thing to the next without a second thought. Our bodies and minds are so disconnected that it’s like two separate things functioning in one vessel. I had this conversation with my mentor and teacher, and he was saying that when people say they do “yoga” it consists of going to meditate in a place where they sit quietly for a few minutes or do a few moves and that’s the extent of the common yogis practice. I can see that. We’ve been conditioned to think that yoga is a set of a few things, meditation, breathing, asana, and maybe a story from hindu mythology if you are really into it. As a teacher, you can see that when people come to class they come in, do their “workout” then leave. Sometimes it sticks and sometimes it’s done after the second savasana is over. s2-practicum

I’d like to debunk this idea. Yoga is so vast that it can’t be contained in a one hour class. It can’t be contained by doing a few poses, or doing a breathing practice only. Imagine trying to fit yourself into a box and then shutting the lid and never taking it off. Yoga is everywhere at all times. It’s in the smile you see from a complete stranger, the sunrise that takes your breath away. Not to say that yoga isn’t in the physical practice or doing your breath work, but it can be so much more!!! Have you ever had a cookie that was totally delicious? Then you dip it in milk if that’s your thing and then it’s 100,000 times more delicious. Or you add frosting to your cookie or marshmallow fluff to give it that extra umph of delight to tickle your taste buds. That’s yoga! Add all the goodies up and keep adding it. It’s living it in every experience. It’s finding a path of connection to yourself and to everyone else.

I often hear from students: “I’m not good at meditating, I can’t sit still and focus.” Ok, so why are you doing that then? First of all, your mind is supposed to wander. It’s what it was designed to do! Stop beating yourself up for being human, geez. Meditation can be anything you find joy in: taking a walk, coloring, reading, cooking, flipping through a magazine. It doesn’t have to be this stoic thing that we imagined or have seen someone else do. Let it be what it is to you. Just like in the physical practice. Not all poses are going to look the same on you like they will one someone else. Thank Ganesha! I wouldn’t want that for myself or anyone else. Sure you want to make sure you’re safe in the pose. But if your forward fold doesn’t look like Joe Blow next door then who cares? 

This practice of yoga is so vast and limitless that trying to put it in a box is unfair and counter productive to its benefits. Learn to let it be. Enjoy all the parts of it as they ebb and flow, transform and unveil beauty to you.

— Sarah