This week, I taught on the word, "yoga."
“Yoga is always an invitation, never an obligation.” -Douglas Brooks.
The word yoga comes from the verbal root “yuj,” literally meaning to yoke, and is often translated as “union.” This is commonly interpreted as the union of the individual with the universal, or even a homecoming to the eternality that has always been you. It’s a magnificent and vague idea.
With time and practice, definitions of yoga become decidedly less grandiose and much more intimate. The dazzling notion of an everlasting Self seems to fade against the quietly radiant experience of being alive and becoming wise, even as we are confronted with challenges like relationship, uncertainty, and mortality.
As we confront the reality of life challenges, our yoga needs to become useful. We need to mould it into a methodology for living a prosperous and vital life. Nobody's yoga practices are ever identical, nor should they be, but yoga does need to be conversational. At the heart of this dialogue, I think, is the question, "How do I live a life I can love?"
Our physical practice can offer some answers to this question. Yoga asana is about the expansion of the senses, the feeling of being fully alive in the body rather than just demanding it achieve a certain outcome or look a certain way. As our awareness expands we begin to observe the moments in our practice when we are living in our bodies in a loving way. We sculpt our bodily clay into a cherished work of art; most likely imperfect, but beloved from the inside and out.