Doing Yoga or In Yoga

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We’ve all been there – running into the yoga studio, trying to fit the session into a hectic schedule.  And even as the body follows the instructor, the mind is already racing at everything else we need to get done today… wishing ahead to the end of class with so much to do.

That’s treating yoga as an exercise class, and it works if we just want the physical benefits.  But using yoga that way is like using an airplane to taxi around the airport.  Yoga is literally capable of merging us with the very fabric of existence – it is that profound.

So how do we approach yoga?  There are really three simple aspects to remember: Intention, presence, and love.  The first is intention.  Yoga is sacred, and we should step into that space with reverence.  Perhaps that means uttering an invocation, or a little prayer, or just bowing down with hands together in humility and gratitude.

Next is presence – and remember that yoga is the union into Oneness.  The only time we ever find ourselves in is now.  We only ever exist now, even while the mind time travels to the past and the future.  If we only exist in now, then now is the only opportunity to merge with existence.  You can do yoga and think about all sorts of things, but you can’t be in yoga.  “In yoga” can only happen now, with absolute presence to the emergent moment with all awareness.

And then there is love.  Not just then, but always because love always is.  But with yoga, love is the balm we apply to the pain.  Yoga may bring pain; the asanas may be difficult.  We struggle getting into the asanas and holding them.  We compare ourselves to others who seem to achieve the asanas with ease and blame ourselves for not getting the posture right.  With pain, there are really two distinct experiences which we mash together and take as one.  First, there is the stimulus of pain that we feel, and critically important – secondly, we own the pain.  The ego latches on to everything, and pain is no exception.  That’s where an acknowledgment that there is pain morphs into suffering.  If we carefully study our pain, we can find the separation between the physical stimulus and the personality’s reaction – which is to get carried away with how the pain hurts us and so on.  Next time as you approach the asana, do so with heartfelt love and see how the pain feels.  Can you notice that you can push into the asana a little bit more?  Can you allow the pain to just be, as you become aware of it with love?  Being in yoga means seeing everything in love, including yourself, and including the postures and the pain that they may bring.

Intention, presence, and love… they turn doing yoga into being yoga and then not just when practicing asanas on a yoga mat but all the time in daily life, being always in yoga.

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