Despite its growing popularity in Western civilization over the past decade or so, there are still many misconceptions about just what the practice of yoga is or is not. Some people believe yoga is simply a series of increasingly difficult poses that exist alongside aerobics, zumba, pilates, and weight training- all designed to strengthen and sculpt our physical bodies. On the other end of the belief spectrum, yoga is thought of as an ancient religion, little understood with all it’s complex Sanskrit words and ideas, and so to be avoided. The truth is that yoga as a practice and discipline consists of many layers of concepts and beliefs, as well as many different forms. There is no one yoga or yoga tree that will help us understand it all or its evolution. But once we are fortunate to discover ourselves on the yoga journey, through a wise teacher, a caring studio, and a community of fellow travelers, knowing what yoga truly is becomes clear. The inner and outer strength we develop through the poses open the door to deeper self-understanding, wisdom, and a right place within the world we each inhabit. The benefits of a regular practice help us deepen our understanding over time. When that time happens, we discover that yoga offers each of us, in our own way, the path to inner understanding, clarity, and calm.
Yoga means literally “to yoke”, and in yoga we slowly, carefully, mindfully learn to calm the fluctuations of our minds and integrate, yoking together, our bodies, minds, and spirits. The path to this integration is slow and careful and is different for each of us. That is to be expected, in fact how it should be. But the ultimate goal of a regular yoga practice is as timely as the beginnings of earth itself. Through yoga’s physical, mental, and spiritual practice we can uncover our true selves. This is what the earliest ancient yogis were searching for and it is not much different today. As we uncover our ”true nature” we become calmer, accepting, and able to give of ourselves to others and the world in which we inhabit. We make peace within ourselves and realize who we are, human beings with faults and gifts. We accept others in the same manner and then, together, can mindfully work toward greater good in the world. It sounds like a tall order, but it truly begins with one step… onto the mat and into ourselves, no matter where we start we are on a common journey.
Enjoy wherever you find yourself at this point in time and realize that you are in the company of many others- ancient through current times.
Namaste. Ann Christy Dybvik