Everything is constantly changing, evolving, growing, and my views on this experience called life are no different.
I feel that we are limiting our experience in this life by attaching to the material world – things we can see, touch, buy, earn, titles we adopt, and even the people we love. In reality, I believe we are part of something so much greater and more magnificent than we can understand.
Life, I think, is something like school and we have come here to learn to love. Every challenge, every obstacle, every event or individual that brings us to our knees, is our teacher. I recall one of my teachers, Seane Corn, saying, “That at these times God (or the universe) is asking us ‘Can you love now?’”
Unconditional love in today’s world seems almost scarce and inconceivable. The reason for this is that we have created separation around race, class, religion, and even personal identity. We have designed a society that revolves around the ‘I’, which means that automatically we have created the ‘You’, and now we live in a word of otherness that revolves around ‘We’ and ‘Them.’
To be honest, I get it. It only makes sense that as individuals who identify with our material world, that we would fight with all our might to defend the very things that seem to define our existence. My concern is that we are forgetting how to see and feel the magic, divinity, and ecstasy of life. With all the expectations and demands of the world we live in, along with the pressures and responsibilities of society, we need to make it a priority connect to the source and remember that we are part of a greater collective consciousness. It is time to bring ‘US’ home.
So what about life then? I have chosen to believe that life is about learning to love. At times it will be challenging & difficult, we may feel forsaken & alone, and sometimes we will do everything but live from that place of love. Nevertheless, we are here to grow and eventually come to dissolve everything that separates us or creates otherness; we are here to remember how to love, to rediscover that We Are One.
What is Yoga?
Forget the textbook definitions or what the sacred texts might say, or even what your Guru, who sat in the Himalayas for 40 years, might tell you is eternal truth.
To everyone Yoga may seem to signify something different, but let’s be specific and not get caught up in all the new age, a pretty language that makes our practice sound all profound. Yoga is real. Yoga can be found in everything we do, say, and think. It is the struggle and suffering, as well as, the uplifting and inspiring. Yoga lives in the ashrams, churches, synagogues, temples, mosques, and is evident in the natural world. Yoga, in essence, is the reality that we are connected and a part of all things, mundane and divine. The practice of Yoga is the process of clearing all the obstacles and illusions that prevent us from realising and embodying that divine union.
To elaborate, I don’t believe Yoga is simply union; it’s a toolbox of methods and practices that help us see, feel, and experience true union. I don’t see Yoga as a series of postures, breathing techniques, or chants, that all of a sudden bring us to experience this blissful state of peace and enlightenment. I see Yoga as work; it is the constant practice of self-inquiry and self-discovery, on and off the mat. For me, the practice has to begin with a relationship.
Yoga creates a space and a practice where we begin to cultivate a quality relationship with the aspects of self. When we commit to the practice mindfully we experience moments when the aspects of self (body, mind, breath, and spirit) come together in the present moment. By creating this relationship to yourself and our environment, we experience Yoga; we learn to be still and get present, rather than living in a state of doing.
On the mat, I find power in practising and teaching vinyasa through slow, intentional movements with lengthened, soft, and compassionate breathing. I think the world of yoga practice has become very mechanical, habitual, aggressive, and fast. Wouldn’t it be amazing to see the practice of Yoga creating new habits on our mat that we take into our daily lives? Habits that are loving, understanding, present, graceful and powerful! In our practice, I would love to see practitioners not just say and repeat these beautiful words about Yoga, but to look at their practice and see that it is the representation of Yoga they envision taking off the mat. In the end, our mat is only a training ground for living Yoga. What we cultivate on our mat we will replicate in our lives and our society.
Yoga, to me, can mean many things and union it most definitely does. However, it is fundamental to remember that the practice of Yoga is not simply about union with self, but rather it is a stepping stone towards union with God and all living things. The practice of Yoga creates the space and stillness we need to work through the ‘dark’ aspects of ourselves so that we can see and feel God. When we can identify with God inside of our own being, only then can we truly see divinity in all things.