What is your Yoga? #1
Written by Hillary R. Hoff
While being a yoga instructor many people comment to me with responses such as, “I’m not flexible, I have no time for yoga right now, or I’m just not a yoga person.” The funny thing is I believe everyone does yoga all the time without realizing it. Yoga is universal and individualistic for every breathing being. At times I find yoga to simply be breath and body, or relaxation, release and meditation within the inner self. At other times I find yoga to be will power, personal pace and pure awareness; often yoga is simply just a mindful stretch. Yoga is defined as “unity” among the mind, body and spirit. Swami Satyananda defines it well when he states in his book Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha, “yoga is a means of balancing and harmonizing the body, mind and emotions.” Satyananda states that when an imbalance occurs, the organs, muscles, and nerves don’t function properly. For instance, the endocrine system might become irregular or a disease manifests due to the nervous system because the mind, body, and emotions are not communicating and complimenting one another. The unity of all three components aim to bring bodily functions in tune so that they work to benefit the whole bodily system. How often do you attempt to sync all three areas within yourself? Whether you are “flexible, have time or are a yoga person” or not, do you end up practicing the unity without even realizing it?
My personal practice and perspective of yoga has drastically changed from one idea to another within the last 15+ years and I only expect it to constantly change as the years and my practice continues. My personal definition of yoga is more focused on the concept of space; a space you create for yourself which guides you into your body. Beginning with the physical body or evolving to the mental and spiritual layers; mindfully surrendering yourself to connect with your soul. Therefore, I can relate yoga to practically anything as long as these three components of the mind, body, and spirit are in need of harmonizing. I visualize the three components as a private personalized tree, I like to refer to as your self-tree. The mind, body, and emotions connecting with the roots, trunk, and branches of your tree. Emotions being the roots, body as the trunk, and mind as the branches. Yoga is not about landing a pose, memorizing Sanskrit, or attending classes everyday. Yoga is you.
“Yoga is a journey of the self, by the self, through the self” -The Bhagavad Gita
Whether it be doing the dishes, sitting at your computer, talking to a friend at the store, or lying down to go to bed in the evening. Can or do you already interlace yoga or the unity of your self-tree into your day? Yoga can be an option which may be mixed into everything you do day to day. It may take effort and mindful patience but highly possible to harmonize your self-tree if you’d like to. There are countless styles of yoga, forms of poses, types of sequencing that may all help harmonize your self-tree and connect with your everyday lifestyle. However, I am going to concentrate in part 2 of this article on three yogic areas which I believe to be used most often in yoga classes and relative to everyday life activities: balancing, twists or binds, and in part 3 on inversions. You are most welcome to read along!