Have you ever left a Yoga class feeling defeated? Did you ask yourself why you felt that way?
Have you ever heard any of these things said in a yoga class before? … “Am is doing this right?” “My pose doesn’t look like that person's.” “I can’t do it like that.” “Did you see them in that pose?” “Yoga is for flexible people.” “I don’t have the right outfit.” “I’ll never get good at it.” “I’m just not meant for this.” These are just some of the things that come up when we talk about Yoga. So, does this make you ask, “What the heck is Yoga anyway?” Is it just a bunch of weird pretzel positions we put our body in? Why are we even doing this? Are we doing it because everyone else is doing it?
The words “Right” and “Wrong” don’t really apply when referring to Yoga. Keep reading and I’ll break it all down for you…
Yes, of course there’s obvious safety concerns for each individual when we practice on our mats, and yes, there are obvious corrections and guidance that are needed, but Yoga is about a feeling, not about “getting it right.” Every single human is designed differently, our anatomical structure is not all the same, so how could our yoga postures all look and feel the same. It’s impossible! What is blissful for one person, may be torture for another and that’s exact foundation of self-exploration. It’s amazing when you think about it! On the contrary, when we place our minds in the “right and wrong” of yoga, we lose the whole experience. Yoga is about showing up for ourselves. In fact, if we are committed to a serious Yoga practice, all we have to do is honestly show up. The rest will be what it will be. Here in the west, we all go buy our fancy yoga outfits, and our pretty mats so that we can “Do” Yoga. That's ok, but the reality is we don’t have to do any of that to practice yoga. If you can breathe, you can practice yoga. That’s it!
In order to get a better understanding of this ancient art, I’m going to get a little technical, which is not always my style. However, in this case, it helps to understand how this all came about. I’ll keep it simple. The literal definition of Yoga means “to unite, or to Yoke.” This is derived from the Sanskrit root “Yuj.” It is a practice of self-exploration.
Yogic texts explain that the practice of Yoga leads to the union of individual consciousness with that of universal consciousness. It’s forming a divine relationship with the “inner you” and the “outer you.”
We learn this from the great sage Patanjali. He wrote the Yoga Sutras, which is a deep guide for self-exploration. Patanjali teaches us about the 8 limbs of Yoga. The 8 limbs are; Restraints, Observances, Postures-Asana, Breath Control, Withdrawal of the Senses, Meditation, and Pure Contemplation. The word “Asana” refers to the physical postures to move our bodies.
In order to truly practice Yoga, we must understand and practice all the limbs. Asana, which is the physical practice we do on our mats, is only 1 of the eight limbs. Practicing only asana, is “technically” not practicing Yoga. It’s practicing a piece of Yoga, called asana.
Yoga is also a key ingredient in an Ayurvedic treatment Protocol. Yoga and Ayurveda are siblings! Yoga is used as a remedy to treat many ailments, mentally, physically, and emotionally.
Confused yet? Lol
The practice of doing asana, is to bring us closer to our true selves, not to “get it right.” This concept of, “I can do this pose, and I can do that pose,” is not the intended purpose of asana. Now, I’m not saying it’s good or bad, it’s just not the essence of Yoga. Moving our bodies is vital for our mental and physical health, and using asana to do that, is wonderful! That’s exactly why asana was created! So, let’s keep moving and practicing asana!
Yoga is a practice, not a perfect. A practice is something that we dedicate our lives to. It’s an acceptance of a journey, with an understanding that there is no finish line. The west has adapted the concept that we “Do” Yoga. This refers to getting on our mats and “Doing” an asana practice. Then we roll up our mats and say, we “Did” Yoga. Yoga isn’t something that we “Do,” it’s something that we “Are.” Yoga is far deeper than just getting on a mat and doing a few things that feel good. Yoga doesn’t end once we get off of our mat. In fact, the deeper work is how we interact with the world and ourselves when we are off the mat. When we make a commitment to practice yoga, we take on a responsibility to be ethical humans and to serve humanity however we can. This is a constant practice, with no end.
This is Yoga! This is why Yoga is truly for Everyone!
Yes, this was technical lol! I get a lot of questions about this topic all the time! I hope this brings some clarity. To learn more about the benefits of a yoga practice and how it can help with your anxiety or other challenges you may have ~ email ~ firstname.lastname@example.org.