I was asked by a student recently if I thought yoga would go out of style. We talked a bit about the “fad” that somehow got labeled as “yoga”, but left it at that. Needless to say, the question stuck with me. North American yoga culture is packaged up so neatly in Lululemon leggings, green smoothies, rockin’ abs and cool playlists. People go to class to supplement their gym routine or to “tune out for a bit”. And hey, with a little luck and the right outfit, the cute guy at the Tuesday night Power class might finally ask you out. Many non-yogis perceive the practice as a sport, or type of workout for people who want to lose weight, gain flexibility, and get that “ideal” body.
Are we a culture of people that are missing the point?
Yoga comes from the Sanskrit root “yuj”, which means “to yoke”, or to unite. Thus, the definition of yoga is, “the union of mind, body and spirit”. Yet, if someone asked me to define yoga, I wouldn’t say this. I may have stuck to this clear and simple definition once, but the more I come to the mat I realize that those words – that experience – is not my own. It’s a bit more complicated to explain than that.
My Yoga is letting go and holding on. It is changing and growing, and it is staying true to myself. My Yoga giving and it is receiving, breaking down and building up. It is about knowing with all my heart, and venturing into the unknown. It is being terrified, but finding the courage to keep going. My Yoga is my breath, every inhale and every exhale. It is believing that the impossible is, in fact, entirely possible, and that I have the power to make this world – this universe – a better place. My yoga is about finding balance, but still allowing myself to fall. Sthira and sukha, yin and yang.
My Yoga is exactly that: my own. It is the special, sacred and unique practice of finding myself… and then letting go.
What is your yoga?