I haven’t talked about yoga lately, but I really want/need too. I lost the inspiration to write about yoga for a while there; my practice even felt a little lack-luster for a few weeks. But I think I have my connection to the practice back. Yoga itself, the “practice” of yoga, is exactly what I’ve been wanting to talk about since I got my mojo back.
People tend to throw around the word “yoga” all the time now. They say things like, “o yea, I did some yoga today,” or “you should try yoga for that **insert ailment here**.” Or simply, “I do yoga.” But what does “yoga” really mean? Yoga isn’t just one thing, one action. It’s a Hindu philosophy of disciplines and literally means “union with one’s self”. So no one does yoga. You practice the philosophy and lifestyle and try to create a balanced union within. Yoga is not just a physical workout like so many American’s believe it is. They think that if they take one or two classes a week for 70 minutes at a studio, they do yoga and are somehow enlightened. They think yoga is a cure-all. The physical practice is amazing, and I do hope that one day everyone will give it a try. But there are so many styles of the physical practice and the simple term “yoga” is not one of them. Ashtanga, Bikram, Hatha, Iyengar, Vinyasa. You can practice any and any one can have a physical practice.
Yoga has so much more meaning and action required than just the physical component. The philosophy is also truly a lifestyle. A lifestyle that no one can ever fully master. That’s why we call yoga a practice in the first place. You never get to the end. There is no race or competition to prepare for. Unless that is, you consider life the competition. But in this practice of yoga, we should be trying every day to create peace within ourselves. To channel calming energy, mindfulness, kindness, and compassion through our bodies. Hopefully enough so that it will begin to take form in an aura around us and emanate out to others in our surroundings.
Yoga is not simply yoga. There are so many aspects wrapped into that one broad encompassing term. It is the outlook you have on life, the way you breath, the mindfulness you have during your day, the kindness you show your body, the compassion you show to others and the environment, the way you feel the ground as you walk. If you want to get technical, the true 8 Limbs of Yoga are:
1. Yama: Universal morality
2. Niyama: Personal observances
3. Asana: Body postures
4. Pranayama: Breathing exercises and control of prana
5. Pratyahara: Control of the senses
6. Dharana: Concentration and cultivating inner perceptual awareness
7. Dhyana: Devotion and meditation to the Divine
8. Samadhi: Union with the Divine
Yoga, most importantly, is what you want it to be, taking into account the entire philosophy. So for me, yoga is not a single definition word. It is not just Limb #3, Asana. It is trying my best to live a beautiful, meaningful, and healthful life. To enjoy the art of the human body by it’s movement on the mat and the flow that is created with the breath. To wake up each day with a purpose and to try my hardest to reach toward that purpose, giving it respect. My yoga is not one thing and there is no end goal. My yoga is continuous, 24/7. It is a practice, it is life, and it is okay to be swept from the philosophy and practice at times. That’s why yoga is most definitely a practice, that one is certain. You don’t do yoga, you live and practice yoga with your full being and the word should not be used my everyone in every situation. Don’t say it just because it’s “trendy” right now. There is no treads, ego, or competition in yoga. Yoga is a sacred word, a beautiful word, but it is simply not yoga.
So tell me:
+ Do you truly try and live yoga?
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