Monday, July 19, 2010

Yoga is More

I just got an email from a friend's studio who's theme this month is the teaching of what yoga is. What is yoga? Seems like that's been a teaching that I've had repeatedly this past few months. Forcing me to define it and redefine it. And really reflect. One student said she went to a class and the (well known and respected) instructor said, "Yoga is just stretching"... she was quite upset by the comment (although, I do think it was said with a little tongue in cheek. I hope!). She insisted to me that it's more to her... it's more, isn't it, Melissa?! It's more to me.
Then, coincidentally, a student yesterday, asked me why she should take yoga. I answered the typical "helps create a sense of awareness, uniting the body, mind and spirit by keeping you in the present moment. For the body, it improves the breath, flexibility, and strength."
And, then she asked why do I do yoga... with a look that said, I really want to know.
Yoga is not just postures or stretching. Yoga helps you do anything better. It's like a really good book, one you can't wait to get back to. The more you get into it. The more it makes sense.
Once you begin to practice yoga and catch the bug of it... at first you're excited about what it does for your body. Soon after, when the practice causes you to think more about the rest of your life, the one outside of the yoga room, you realize it's something more. You're something more.
It's impossible to be upside down and not realize you're conquering your fears.... it's impossible to take those cleansing breaths in pranayama and not feel as if you are releasing the weight of the world... when you acknowledge that it's impossible to hold a negative and positive thought at the same time and the principles of the ahimsa (non-harming) take hold....and when you've had a moving practice that ends with a savasana that is so deep that instead of falling asleep from exhaustion, you begin to cry (and maybe don't even know why you're crying... could just be happy tears)... it just clicks.
Yoga is more. And you find the more through the experience of it, on and off the mat. (Yoga Sutra 1.7)

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