"Success comes to him who is engaged in the practice. How can one get success without practice; for by merely reading books on Yoga, one can never get success."
(Hatha Yoga Pradipika, Verse 67)
"Whether young, old or very old, sick or debilitated, one who is vigilant attains success in all the yogas, by means of practice."
(Hatha Yoga Pradipika i : 64)
Yoga has exploded all over the world. Just about everyone has heard and/or have tried it at least once. No longer on the fringe, yoga has become a common word in many circles. Fashionable even. A popularity spread wide is a good thing to some extent. Giving those a small taste of yoga has a way of sparking something deeply held inside, which comes unexpected. Many times I've heard, "I only wanted to become more flexible. I didn't know I was gonna get all this." Good or bad, ultimately moving us forward, the internal breakthroughs prove to be invaluable, and challenging. The steps toward authenticity come with many bumps and triumphs. Whether people come to the yoga practice for a better body or to simply relax doesn't seem to matter and shouldn't. For yoga is as simple and complex as they come.
Before delving deeply into the practice, in my mind, I thought I knew what yoga was, especially after immersing myself into various Eastern philosophy classes in college. Now, when I look back on it, I don't even think my college professor knew what it was. Maybe theoretically. But let's get real, the practice of yoga goes beyond theory, and the collecting of information.
The entire process of yoga is experiential. It must be experienced. I love to read just as much as the next person, especially on yoga related topics, but in the end, I know that it will only take me so far in realizing union. And lets be honest, there are many days on the mat where I feel far from union. Sometimes in hell. Nonetheless, showing up to allow whatever will take place, to take place, has given a sense of freedom to simply be. In this moment I can be me, pure and simple, with the good, the bad, the ugly, or indifferent. Embracing all of it is where the learning comes in.
Often, I find myself telling new students you'll never regret taking on the practice of yoga. However, your life won't necessarily become more comfortable or easy. When pushed up against our true self, the external has a way of shifting. Even drastically. This is what I mean about signing up for something, more. We tap into our essential make up. Our vast inner knowing. We taste what we've been craving, sitting in the truth of who we are, in this moment, feeling something real for once in our life.
What is more?
Maybe a better word would be less. Living in liberation often leads to wanting less. Yoga has a way of stopping us in our tracks. The life of meaningless, which seemed to have been meaningful, does a complete 180°. The quest is arduous, but nevertheless, rewarding. Not necessarily rewards of the external, but of the internal. Coming into a place of greater forgiveness and letting go, or even of greater expression and expansion. What I've found is what develops is as unique as the individual. Beautiful and profound. It can't be packaged to look or be a certain way. What blossoms may even seem strange to others. Imagine that.
With the ever growing popularity of Yoga, and all the jazzy marketing, ideals, and overnight teacher training certifications, going forth on the journey with discernment is crucial depending on what one is after. I guess you can say there is something out there for everyone, but if you want to go deep, what is offered isn't necessarily as readily available. You've got to dig down below the surface of all the flash and strip down to the bare bones. Yoga.
Obviously, I'm not talking about the "feel-good" yoga, and the surface opening that seem to take place in a workshop setting. I'm talking about the daily grind. Because in reality, it doesn't always feel good, and what I've concluded is that is not what it's about anyway. Yes. The by product of consistent practice lead us to access peace of mind, but often there is much to uncover in the process. Are you willing to do the work?
In the depth of contemplation I must continue to reexamine why I do what I do every morning. For what purpose? Why do I teach? Is my heart in the right place? Do I continue to stand in a place of truth? What does union represent for me? Yoga.
With the ever growing popularity of yoga in the western world it continually becomes a challenge to work my way through all the external smatterings that have surfaced around it. At the end of the day it's about more than the state of my body, or even my mind, but what am I connecting too? Can I ultimately surrender and align to the powerful force that connects us all? Can I trust to be guided from this place?
Yes. Yoga is becoming another product we can buy into in the west. However, don't be seduced by this mindset. Yoga is for everyone. We don't need to grasp for a conceptual ideal, or fit ourselves into another box. It wipes the mirror clean. That's it. We let go. We uncover. We look inside.
Then the journey begins.