Welcome to the magical world of Yoga, where you can finally experience inner peace, unconditional love, and be in harmony with the world!
Um, no.Sorry, you’ve come looking in the wrong place.
What are you talking about, you’re screaming at me.This is what they’ve been telling me.This is what I see in magazine ads, on billboards, on TV.Someone sitting cross legged, eyes closed, fingers positioned in a funny way, slight smile on their lips?"Zen" attitude?(It’s strange how we use the idea of Zen, since Zen is probably the most severe, the strictest forme of buddhism, requiring intense discipline).
Hm . . . what they’re selling you is maybe 1%, if even, of what Yoga is.Probably less.
So if this isn’t Yoga, then what is?
A way to manage stress?
Ok, so then what is it?
It's the million dollar question with an answer that is simple and complex at the same time.
Yoga is the goal and the method of achieving that goal.
What is the goal, then?
The goal is….The state of Yoga.
Yoga is a state of being.It’s not a concept or an idea.It is a state of being.
And what is this state of being you ask?Is THIS the state of inner peace, harmony and love?
We have to go back to the beginning.
What does the word Yoga mean?
Yoga means Union.
So Union with what?What are we unifying?
Oh my, the question might be What are we NOT unifying?
The answer is Nothing.
There is nothing that we are NOT unifying.
In other words, we are unifying EVERYTHING.
Let’s break that down:
Starting with our own person, at a very basic level, we can say that we are unifying our body, mind and soul.Here in the west, we have the idea that we are our mind.We are the descendants of Descartes, “I think, therefore I am.”Hm… again, nope.
We live most of our lives in a state of disintegration.We live in our minds, thinking that the internal monologue, our opinions on things, our emotions and causes of our emotions are who we are.Our bodies are just this thing that we drag around all day that gives us trouble, aches and pains or pleasure.Our soul…well, our soul, we don’t connect with all that often.We are disintegrated.We are not aware of our wholeness.
The state of Yoga, or union, is the opposite. It is the state of integration.On a personal level, it is the state of unifying our body, mind and soul.
It’s a state that hard to describe to those who haven’t been aware of this state, but everyone has had moments of Yoga--moments, even if fleeting, of feeling unified.
Some of us call it a state of flow.I see it that way, since the Yoga (method) that I practice and teach most often is about flow.A state where action, thought, feeling and a sense of connectedness to something that is greater than the physical body all align and come together in one moment.Like an athlete on the track, an artist, a scientist in the field, a chemist in the lab, a lawyer in court, and so on…we could imagine infinite number of examples.
We feel totally present, free, yet guided at the same time.We feel connected to something greater than ourselves as well as connected with the deepest part of ourselves.And this is where we talk about the greater sense of Yoga, unifying the vastness of life with the most intimate aspects of our being.
We call this the macrocosm and the microcosm.A greater sense of Yoga is when we feel unified the something greater than ourselves, the macrocosm and something so very small and subtle inside of ourselves, the microcosm.
We feel unified with LIFE.We feel one with ALL that there is.
OK, so that is the STATE of yoga.
Next, let’s talk about the Method of yoga.
This is not where we talk about the different styles of yoga that you might find classes on.Even that discussion falls under a larger category—the method of Yoga through Asana, or postures.
What?That’s a category of Yoga?
Yes!Putting your body into funny shapes is just ONE of the what we call the 8 Limbs of Yoga.This means that there are 8 generally accepted methods of yoga and postures is only one of them.
We’re not even going to talk about these 8 limbs of yoga here.That's another discussion entirely.
What I want to point out here is that Yoga as a method can be really anything, anything method, any ACTION that leads to a state of Yoga, a state of UNION as I described above.
Yep, it can be anything.It can be postures, it can be Tai Chi, it can be Qi Gong, it can be basketball, it can be dancing, running, driving, it can be washing the dishes!
Yes, Yoga can be anything.And the key word here is can be anything.Yoga is not systematically these activities.
So, what’s the difference between regular basketball and Yoga basketball?
The difference is the state of awareness. In doing these activities, does one allow oneself to move into a state of yoga? If by playing basketball, this state of feeling at ONE with life is reached, it’s Yoga basketball. If not, it’s not. It’s simply a question of awareness.
So to sum up, Yoga is two things:A state of beingAND a way to reach that state of being.Capiche?
Have you ever experienced a state of yoga?Can you describe it?
What was the activity that led up to that experience?Can you describe what elements combined created the potential or opening that made the state of yoga possible?
Share your answers in the comments below.
Mira Jamadi Founder of Vinyasa Yoga teacher training Divine Alchemy Yoga School
Join me in Tuscany!
Yoga Detox Retreat in Italy March 28 - April 3