You want me to define her? Well, she is not simple. She is a way of life. She is a teacher of breath, movement, love and the art of letting go. She finds the edge and is bold enough to go there but does not exceed the body's limits. She creates an environment for God to remove veils from our eyes in order to see what is truly within us. She is content with what has been given to the body, soul and spirit each day. She accepts outward circumstances that cannot be changed and invites them with peace. She is mindful. She is strong yet sweet. She does not look to the past nor the future, but dwells in the present. She is never distracted, always moving with a purpose. She is intentional and authentic in every aspect of life. Every person has his or her own way of relating to her. She cannot be concretely defined or figured out. Who is this beautiful woman? She is yoga.
I have not always known yoga as the woman described here. When I first began practicing, yoga was simply a way for me to move my body, enjoying exercise and stretching in the same "work out." I never understood why people felt the need to call themselves "yogis" if it was just another class option on the gym schedule. Over the past few months I have realized that yoga is not just an exercise class, yoga is a way of life and those who truly practice are dedicated to much more than a work out.
It seems like there are so many misunderstandings of what yoga is, so having the opportunity to study the history of yoga was eye opening for me. Many people believe yoga is religious, and I have struggled with how to take this myself. Some people especially here in the south believe that to practice or teach yoga you must be a hippy or a Hindu. Reading through The Heart of Yoga by Desikachar shed some light on this for me. He says " Just because yoga originated in India, does not mean that we must become a Hindu in order to practice it. On the contrary, it is not even expected of a Hindu that he or she practice yoga. Yoga does not require a particular belief system and, if we already have one, it is not challenged by yoga. Everyone can begin, and the point at which we start is very personal and individual, depending on where we are at the time." The way a person defines and practices yoga is very personal! I have taken parts of my yoga practice as a way of practicing the presence of God, learning deeper aspects of life and calling on the name of Jesus. While in other parts of yoga my focus is on the breath and the body.