Originally published on elephant journal.
“Yoga is the mere or sheer participation in the wonder of Life as it is already perfectly given.”
~ Mark Whitwell, Yoga of Heart
The word “yoga” has become popular, mainstream and confused.
The question for today is: are we practicing actual yoga? Or are we making our yoga yet another item on our endless task list, an appointment in our weekly agenda after which we can go back to being miserable?
Are we creating spiritual practice just to have something to do or to attain enlightenment or flat abs or the perfect life?
The teacher is within. A guru can light the path, but only the yogi can walk that path.
Every yogi has her own practice.
There are as many yogas as yogis.
Yoga isn’t asana.
Yoga isn’t meditation.
Yoga isn’t ethics and morals.
Yoga isn’t studying the Gita or the Sutras.
“You cannot do yoga. Yoga is your natural state. What you can do are yoga exercises, which may reveal to you where you are resisting your natural state.” ~ Sharon Gannon
Yoga isn’t a lifestyle; yoga is life.
Yoga is not a lineage. Yoga does not require any particular equipment, apparel or paraphernalia. Yoga is not just on the mat. Yoga is not just in a studio. Yoga is not just formal practice.
Yoga isn’t the conscious inhale and exhale.
Yoga isn’t perfect balance.
Yoga isn’t New Age relaxation.
Yoga isn’t flexibility.
Yoga isn’t mindfulness.
Yoga blesses us with well being and freedom from inflexibility, weakness and chronic imbalance. Freedom from rigid beliefs about life, God and our own bodies and abilities.
Yoga is the dance of the soul, the root of the smile, the hollow center inside the space that fills the heart.
Yoga isn’t exclusive.
Yoga isn’t expensive.
Yoga isn’t a business or a marketplace or a commercial for the happy, healthy, mindful life.
Yoga is who we are and always have been.
“Yoga must be adapted to our needs, and no standardized approach will work.” ~ Mark Whitwell
We mustn’t integrate Yoga into our lives—that would be impossible, as it is already integrated. What we can do is learn certain movements, exercises and breath techniques for our body type and personality. What we can do is meditate and cultivate mindfulness and heartfulness throughout our days and years on the planet.
Yoga is realization that we are the energy to live fully, serve others and give love, kindness and compassion to all beings, including ourselves.
We are practicing everywhere, all the time, whether we know it or not.
Yoga is union.
Union of what?
Not the little self to the Big Self. Not the ego to the divine. Those are already connected, and there is no way of separating Us versus Them or me versus God.
We are nature, and nature is us. Yoga helps us realize that.