What is Yoga?

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If you were asked to define yoga, how would you do it?  Would you use words like the body, poses, stretching, bending, fitness, physical or class?  These words are great but they don’t even touch the deepest aspect of yoga.  In one word, it means union.

Union with what?  Literally, it means oneness with existence.  Yoga is a path to melt into creation itself, life itself.  Right now, these concepts are far from our experience but still, let’s explore a little.  We breathe air that we share with each other, with plants, with other animals.  If we hold our breath and keep air from entering, we do not survive.  We drink water from the planet’s rivers.  If we had no water for more than 3 days, we would die.  We eat food that comes from the earth.  If we had no food for more than a few weeks, we would wither away.  So clearly there is an indisputable connection between us and this earth.  But we forget that and assume ourselves to be entirely independent human beings.

How long can we go without other people around?  We are social creatures and our psychological wellbeing depends on the community.  If we were left alone for extended periods of time, certain clinical pathologies would begin to form in our psyche.  Yet we pretend that others are not part of us, and we are fully autonomous without being inclusive of others.  We form a wall around ourselves and only allow the few to enter, there is no room in our hearts for any random stranger.

Not only us, but can anything just exist by itself?  Do plants exist purely in and of themselves or do they rely on soil, living organisms, our atmosphere, and the sun?  What about the animal kingdom?  What about the planet itself?  Does it not rely on the solar system to keep to its cosmic cycle?  Nothing in existence is separate from anything else, everything is intricately connected at the deepest levels.

Being in Yoga means our sense of individuality is dissolved or kept aside, so that the self-proclaimed barrier between us and the rest of existence dissipates.  This illusion that we have mistakenly identified with dissolves and we recognize ourselves as what we truly are.

In normal life, we see ourselves vs. the rest of the world.  Yoga means union with all that is.  There is no separation, and everything co-emerges in the moment, and we along with it.  In our daily lives, if we ever feel at one with another, for example a spouse or a loved one, the amount of joy in that moment is so great!  Now imagine coming into the experience of being at one with everything.  The sense of well-being and inner bliss is beyond measure.  That is yoga.

 

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