Since we are celebrating International Yoga Day on June 21 this month, it seems now is a good time to look at an important question: what actually is yoga? Is it maintaining tree pose for more than five breaths before falling? What about the perfect headstand? How about finally mastering crane pose, or getting my foot behind my head? Ummm, no. A misconception many of us have is the notion that looking beautiful in a challenging pose must be what yoga is all about. Yes, it feels good to work hard and master a posture, and I’m all for it! But just because you are able to perform a pose well, or even perfectly, does not mean you are practicing yoga! Okay then, so back to our question: what actually is yoga? Well, there are a lot of solid definitions out there for yoga, such as to yoke, union, oneness, equanimity, meditation, etc. Although I believe all of these definitions work, the one I like to use is integration.
When we speak about integration in the context of yoga, we’re referring to being in a state of polarity. We’re at one with what is, without our attention being focused on that incessant commentary in our heads, the voice of the ego. The voice that is constantly labeling, judging, liking or disliking. Instead, we use our will to take our attention off that commentary and place it where we want it to be, in the present moment, one with what we are doing.
Is this easy? Heck no! That’s why yoga is a practice. We use the tools yoga has given us to practice and study ourselves on our mats and off. On our mats, we remember to bring a sense of allowing for how the body is showing up, with all of its capabilities and all of its limitations. We watch and observe the mind’s commentary, studying ourselves. We work to be present and integrated with what is. Our mat is our laboratory and the pose is an experiment: the postures are our place to practice yoga, not yoga itself.
Has yoga changed your life? Has it transformed you from the inside out? Send us a message and let us know! We’d love to hear from you.