What is yoga? This is a question that gets posed at the beginning of many a yoga teacher training, and something that a yoga teacher or studio owner gets asked. Is it the physical movement with our body, is it the breath exercises, meditation, chanting, is it a religion? What is this yoga we speak of? If you google yoga or go to your local bookstore or library, you may not be any further ahead in defining what yoga is, there are lots of voices and words to answer that seemingly simple question. What we primarily know of yoga is the asana, the physical postures, the movement of the body. And in the west – the harder, the more ‘advanced’ the posture and practice are the better it is from all portrayals. There aren’t a lot of yoga selfies out there of an ‘advanced’ meditation practice. When I started my yoga practice it was all about my body (which is not a bad thing – my body carries me around, everywhere I go, and to be carried comfortably is a worthwhile endeavor). I had strong beliefs, ideas, about what the ‘best’ yoga practice was, it needed to be hot (hotter the better), 90 minutes long, same sequence, day after day. As time passed in this hot sweaty, intense Bikram practice, I became curious about what else was out ‘there’. I discovered Moksha yoga, hot, sweaty, with more freedom, still a series, but an emphasis on listening to my body, moving mindfully, resting when needed and my idea of what yoga was expanded to include this awareness of kindness to myself, not needing to go the edge every time. Along my journey (what I like to call my love affair with yoga) I found yin and fell head over heels. Yin was/is the opposite of all the heat, striving, pushing, doing that I’d been practicing. Yin led me to restorative yoga, led me to meditation. Meditation has led me to observe the yoga all around me, in every moment, in every breath. On my practice mat this morning I moved my body in a hot hatha class, I breathed, I pushed myself to the edge, rested when I needed to, I noticed my thoughts and feelings, I felt connected to the teacher and the people around me. This afternoon I meditated and read about meditation. What is yoga? For me, right now, it’s all of it. It’s seeing what’s here. When I show up to my mat I’m curious about what’s here. When I meditate, the same. At the looooong line up at Superstore what’s here? You can start right now. If you’re curious about yourself – your body, your breath, your connection to yourself, to others, to the world around you – start by coming to a class, one breath at a time, one pose at a time, one minute of sitting quietly at a time, one kind act at a time – see what’s here.
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