What I am realizing more and more, as I ponder over my desire to teach yoga, is that no one really knows what yoga is. No one knows what yoga really looks like. And if you can’t describe yoga…it’s really hard to do it.
So I wanted to take a quick moment to explore the definition or maybe a couple of definitions for yoga.
Yoga: A Definition and a Hypothesis
Just doing a quick google search of the definition of yoga brought a couple of different answers. But the simplest answer and the clearest definition shared most often is that Yoga means Union. And I strongly believe that there are 3 different ways to yoga or unite.
1. The uniting of the individual with themselves. This is an exciting and challenging opportunity to find harmony and balance within the mind, the body, and the soul.
2. The uniting of the individual with the world around them. This becomes a much more difficult yet still breathtaking opportunity to love, respect, nurture, befriend, make peace, and show gratitude for the many different forms of life and living on the earth. Namaste.
3. The uniting of the individual with the divine. Now when I say divine, I mean: the divine soul, an ascribed to deity or group of deities, a higher presence, the universe, or any good principle.
So why is it that when you bring up the word yoga whether in discussion with friends, internet searches, or even doing a book search at the library, you find a bunch of pretzel shapes and acrobatic poses done by skinny white girls in bikinis?
I believe it’s because the children of mortality understand the physical because of their physicality so much more than the ethereal.
A look at Yoga’s eight limbs
The 8 limbs of Yoga are the universal cheat codes to embracing unity. They are Yoga. Asana practice, or the bendy, stretchy, fold yourself in half, hold, breathe, smile, poses practiced in gyms, yoga studios, and photographed for Instagram are only one incredibly small part of what yoga really is. Each limb works alone and together to teach the individual unity. I’m not going to discuss the 8 limbs now because you would end up reading a novelette, but maybe in future blog posts. Stay tuned!
Yoga truly is so much more than just the asana poses. And it is for this reason that yoga is a practice meant for all people at every stage of their lives.