So often we go through our daily routines on autopilot. Status quo. Just another day. We’ve been trained, collectively, not to ask why and just to follow the leader.
In school, religion, work. Of parents, teachers, law and government. Of the status quo majority. Yoga offers a reprieve from the rules and boxes of being “other.” Other than you are, other than curious, other than on autopilot.
Yoga is a practice of asking why. Of ourselves, our actions. It’s self-inquiry. But what is a practice that empowers asking why if the practice itself can’t be questioned?
So I ask, “Why yoga?” Why yoga, really?
First … What Is Yoga?
To answer that, I start at, “What is yoga, really?” Got to know what we’re dealing with to be able to dig into why we’re dealing with it.
I describe yoga as the intentional act of plugging in. It is a practice of awareness, presence and empowerment. When we plug in, we ignite a flow of focused energy. We tap into innate light, wisdom and authenticity. Yoga is the consistent practice of connecting with the highest Self.
Yoga is the intentional practice of getting out of the way of our true Selves. It’s about clearing through the debris of the ego-centric and culturally conditioned life, and life’s events that have hardened us against ourselves and each other.
So, why do I practice and teach yoga? To connect with me, the realest me. To plug into my bestest Self. To continually heighten my sensitivity to life so I can experience it honestly, rather than shunt it into the shadows where I don’t have to consider what it is or how to deal with it.
With a practice of awareness and softening, we can accept who we are really and overcome the old stories that tell us we’re broken, unworthy and helpless. Yoga is a tool for remembering what’s good, real and strong in us.
Yoga is intentional rest. A reprieve from competition and ego, from compulsion to be anything other than the Self. It’s a practice of allowing ease and contentment with who we are, rather than buying into the messages of all the ways we are told we’re not enough.
A yoga practice is an opportunity to set aside the rush of messages and stories and patterns the world heaps onto us — and that we have unwittingly bought into for so, so long.
“You are not enough … but you can be for $19.99. You can be full if you do _____, buy _____, get _____ many likes on your social media posts.”
Practicing yoga is remembering that we are enough, that we don’t need those external validations, that the light comes from within. Only from within.
Why Practice Yoga?
Why yoga? To move beyond the comfort zone of that cultural and egoic conditioning, to explore the discomfort of investigating our real selves, and embracing what we find there.
We use the tool of yoga as means of constant self-inquiry. And we use it to move forward with self-compassion despite, and because of, what we find in response to the questions.
Why yoga? To practice setting sacred boundaries in which we honor and love ourselves. It’s rooted in formal, focused time on the mat, bolster, chair … wherever you take a seat (asana) in meditation (dhyāna), mantra (sacred sound), asana (“poses”) or whatever your practice consists of.
Why yoga? To remember. To remember what it feels like to be a whole being — body and soul — and not just an object doing things merely utilitarian and forgettable.
Then, from that practice within, we step out there. We extend our practice to the world as yoga embodied and applied in all we do. Being yoga is an inward practice that cultivates outward ripples, reflections of the light we nurture inwardly and shine outwardly.
It’s flawed, messy, frustrating, and not designed for preaching from pedestals or soap boxes. It’s just practice. Practice, learn, forget, practice and repeat. Indefinitely. An upward spiraling process.
Why yoga? To remember. To remember what it feels like to be a whole being — body and soul — and not just an object doing things merely utilitarian and forgettable. To practice remembering again and again so we can carry that attuned sense of the whole and connected Self wherever we roam.
So, there are many answers to “Why yoga?” I’ve described only a few of mine, ones that will shift and evolve as I continue to practice yoga — and continue to recognize everything else I’m still practicing that isn’t my best self.
We’re all practicing something, many somethings. Those ingrained, deeply grooved habits, for better and worse. The question is: What are you practicing — and why?
Photo Credit: Robin Schreiner via Unsplash