Yoga means so many things to so many different people, yoga is a personal journey. The ‘official’ meaning of the word yoga is thought to have originated from Sanskrit, ‘to yoke’, to conjoin.
To me, yoga is the union of opposites, of everything about us and each other. My yoga is the yoking of the body with the mind, the breath with the movement, my quieter, inner self with my outer-self or ego, and for me, it’s even the union of myself with all other beings and with the earth.
For me, yoga is when I’m in a state of flow which melts all separateness and all boundaries. When I’m in that flow, there is no difference between you and me, or me and all other beings – we’re all the same.
This can seem a little lofty, but really it isn’t. It’s a very practical feeling. You know it when you’re so focused on something there’s nothing else in the world, that, to me, is yoga. Yoga is when I’m fully, totally absorbed in the moment – and that moment is one of beauty and one-ness.
I get in this state when i’m in a beautiful woodland and my mind is tranquil. I get it when I’m playing with my beloved dogs.
Yoga and Life’s Challenges
The trick, of course, is to get into that state when the challenges that life tends to throw at us all does its thing. So when we’re going through physical pain? Heartbreak? Grief? Overwhelm? Stress or Anxiety?
Can we get into a state of yoga when going through these things? Can we see the beauty in every situation? Well, that to me is the practice, the discipline of yoga.
The practice of doing poses whilst consciously breathing is a very good practice of getting into that state in one-ness even when there’s a lot going on. So whilst performing yoga poses, there can be ‘a lot’ going on.
There’s a lot to focus on – physical sensation, emotional release, concentration on the breath. And with all of that – can we still get into a state of yoga? That for me is a brilliant, habit forming practice. Because if I can get myself into a state of yoga, of one-ness consciously, chances are that when the going gets rough, I can do that too.
And that for me is why yoga is such a transformative practice and such an amazingly indispensable tool in my tool-kit for dealing with the ups and downs of life.
The yoga poses (called asana in yoga’s native tongue, sanskrit) are particular poses designed for very particular purposes. When the yoga poses are combined with deep, conscious breathing, something very magical happens. I’m pretty sure that what the magic is depends on the person, the day and the intention with which the practice of yoga is performed.
Different Types of Yoga
And the best thing about yoga? It covers the widest variety of movement and breath-work.
Right from zero movement in yoga nidra (a state of yogic sleep), which is being consciously unconscious (sounds complicated but it’s not!) to hatha yoga, which is an encompassing term for yoga with poses.
From yin, which is a quiet practice of holding poses for much longer so that we can get a deeper experience, to vinyasa, which is often interpreted as is the joining up of yoga poses in a quicker flow.
Vinyasa has moved me profoundly in my life, first as Ashtanga Vinyasa and then various forms of vinyasa. It feels just wonderful to move and flow in this way, like a dancer.
But to me, the most profound yoga is yoga nidra. This is when my body no longer has the need to search for the physical sensations and I can truly relax into yourself just being you.
Yoga for Everyone
So there’s a ‘yoga’ for everyone. From spiritual warrior to those on a quest for the perfect handstand or backside. I hope that this may inspire you to find way onto a yoga mat and start to breathe, you just never know where your own yoga quest will take you!