Sunday, April 17, 2011

What is Yoga: From Mat to Intention to Action

What is yoga? Is it coming onto a plastic foam mat, moving for an hour and a half, creating a pool of sweat and then getting on with your life? Is it simply exercise meant to move your body into shape? Is it purely a mental practice meant to help silence your mind clutter and let you think meaningfully? Does it help iron out the kinks in your spiritual ideas about the world?

Yoga is what happens when you leave your mat and go out into the world.

I'm reminded of this time and time again by many yoga teachers and yet it still doesn't fully sink in. It is like being in class and the teacher tells all of the students that some of you may need to lower your knees. No one moves. Yet again she repeats, if you find your are dipping in the posture, come to your knees. Pause for impact. Nothing. If you think I may be talking to you - COME TO YOUR KNEES! All of a sudden it clicks and some folks come to their knees. 

When my teachers tell me over and over again that the true power of yoga is when you take it from your mat and out into the world, it is supposed to sink in. I kept thinking to myself, well I think I'm already doing that. No. Not true. If you think your teacher may be talking to you - she is! The fact that I need to work on listening to this particular concept didn't sink in until yesterday.

Yoga knits my body, mind and spirit together. It is also in my thoughts, actions and deeds. Yoga is a philosophy of being. I need to work on finding my yoga outside of being on my yoga mat.

I'm human. I'm sure that this is a life long process - like all of the other lessons we have to learn in this lifetime. I want to keep learning. I want to make an affirmation that I recognize I need to act with love and kindness continually, not just when it is convenient or easy. Love, compassion, kindness, forgiveness and empathy. What's the point in all I'm learning if I don't apply it? Practice compassion.

I'm not perfect and although I try to do good deeds I sometimes fail at awareness and compassion in my personal life. Intention. I intend to act and speak with love and kindness - what is the point in doing anything else?

I grew up listening to my mom's John Denver tapes. We would all sing along. I'm not a huge fan of country music, but I love story songs. This is one of my favorites. Poems, Prayers and Promises.