What is Yoga?
Before taking my YTT, I had no real concept as to the vast scope of the ancient spiritual practice known as ‘Yoga’. Now though, the meaning is quite simple to me - To breakdown & realize the Inner Most Self & live in Union with Universe/Spirit/Source. Simple? Yes. Easy?? Pppffftttt. How do I go about doing this? To achieve will most likely take many, many lifetimes. But here, in this lifetime, as I live & breath on this earth at this time in history, I can create a life dedicated to the betterment of myself and serving others, which will bring me just that much closer to the meaning I hold true.
I’m not ashamed to admit that I used to consider Yoga 90% poses and 10% theory or philosophy or ‘other’. How was I to know anything else? The Western world has a very disingenuous way of killing the beast, taking only its fur and leaving the rest to rot. We have taken a pure form of this beautifully practical, spiritual science and disassociated ourselves from the true meaning of ‘Yoga’. Guilty. You see, in the West, we are known to focus much more on Mind & Body, whereas Eastern thought is more concentrated on Mind, Body & Spirit. Now, this is of course a generalization, not everyone studying Yoga in the Western World thinks this way. I have come across teachers here in Calgary that live as they teach, awesomely refreshing to see and I honour them as major inspiration for me and my unfolding journey.
And I'm not knocking yogic postures. They are instrumental in connecting Mind & Body. The breaks within the rhythmic flow of my breath as I practice show up as warning signs as to where I am causing unnecessary strain in my body. My Mind & Body stay in connection and speak to each other in ways I have not experienced before. And once I get into a groove within a Vinyasa sequence, all thought can actually melt away and I am left within just a beautifully calming experience. It also helps to get this 38 year old body out of bed and stretched wide open.
So now, after realizing my misstep, I take absolute responsibility and moving forward, make every intention of living in its true meaning. To me -> Yoga is not a religion. It’s not all about the poses. It's not half assed and only when I ‘feel like doing it’. It’s not a belief that something else can make me feel better. It’s a true belief in myself. It’s a way of life. It’s how I treat others & myself. It’s my relationship to nature, and my compassion towards other living things. It's how I connect to my breath & body. It’s tuning into and communicating with Universe. It’s a spiritual rite of passage & lifelong quest. Yoga is a COMPLETE way to live - it’s the whole spiritual practice. Just as is Ayurveda is the whole package to optimize physical & mental health, Yoga casts the same qualities to the spiritual Self. Two of my favourite quotes around the connection of Yoga & Ayurveda are from Vedic Teacher, Activist & Author David Frawley (I always have to sneak in a little Ayurvedic nugget):
“Ayurveda is the Vedic Science of healing for both body & mind. Yoga is the Vedic Science of Self-Realization that depends upon a well-functioning body & mind.”
“Yoga rests upon Ayurvedic medicine for its health implications. Ayurveda rests upon Yoga for its mental & spiritual dimension.”
So “What is Yoga?” - Again, Yoga for me, is an ongoing evolution of Self, and ultimately a pure Union with Universe. I don't feel as though it will end in this lifetime, I hope it will continue onto others should I be so fortunate to come back down here once again. I will ALWAYS be a student, although don’t tell my fucking ego! Any knowledge I accumulate throughout life's vast lessons, I will translate into wisdom within my own experience. It would be close to impossible to truly appreciate what Yoga can offer to myself & the world without actual lived experience. So that’s my life now, as I wake up and open my eyes for the first time each day, I am called to live within the subtle walls of Yoga and its teachings. And yeah, it’s hard sometimes. I still get pissed off at people while driving. I still shy away from difficult conversations because of what I think it would mean to that relationship. I still find it tough most days to sit still in meditation and even practice the postures. I still am hard on myself & others in my life when my ego is inflated. The difference is now I am AWARE of this behaviour, and make every effort to take ACTION to ensure that my behaviour is serving me for the betterment of myself and those who I care about.
I am humbled at what Yoga continues to teach me since diving into its philosophy & lessons. Every damn day I am learning, and that curiosity will never cease to exist within me until I take my last breath. The gratitude I have for this way of being is not lost upon me, someone who now feels a little less lonely walking through this never ending forest of life. - xo K