Yoga is such a rich, deep tradition, that’s misused and misunderstood a lot in our country, in our state, in our neighborhood. The more I study as a student and as a teacher, the more I continue to see the huge disconnects we have from what yoga really is. Our society – matter, possession, ego-driven society – is trying to market and brand yoga into physical exercises, yoga clothes, and trendy sayings, but what is yoga really?
Yoga isn’t any series of postures. Yoga isn’t any specific practice. It isn’t any set of tools. It isn’t something we can trademark or even a series we can do every day. Yoga isn’t specifically about kicking your butt or relaxing.
Yoga is about transforming our MIND.
Yoga is a vast ocean or maybe even universe of tools that refine the mind. It’s a practice of understanding the mind, refining the mind, and fully utilizing the mind’s potentials.
Yoga understands that the human body is interconnected with all of its various layers. We have bodies, but we also have breath, thoughts, feelings, emotions, and more. Our body physiologically responds to the mind. Our mind responds to our bodies. It’s all interconnected. Our mind processes and adapts or responds to what’s happening in us and outside of us. As we learn what our mind really is, we can transform it and we can connect to our deeper truth, our heart.
Yoga is essentially a set of tools or practices that deal with the whole human system in order to transform the mind, and connect us to the truth in our heart. Each of us have unique needs and abilities, but yoga gives us all tools to use. Tools that allow us to reach our minds, to understand our minds, and transform our minds.
Tools that we really need to work with a teacher to utilize and understand. Our preferences, egos, and habits can cloud our thinking which is where the real value of an educated teacher is ideal. A teacher can work with us to create individualized practices that address our unique needs. Group classes have some value in introducing us to tools we can use, but the real practice of yoga is individualized and specific to each of our own needs and situations.
If you haven’t ever had a private yoga session to assess your individual practice, I highly encourage you to do so.
As we transform our minds, we better our lives and we better our ways of thinking. We improve our health and we improve our spiritual well being.
Yoga isn’t a religion. Yoga isn’t a set of poses. Yoga isn’t stretching or strengthening. Yoga isn’t only breathing or meditating or using mantras. These are all tools. When we use these tools appropriately, we can transform our mind for a better life connecting what’s inside of us and what’s outside of us. We connect to the truth that’s in our heart.