Yoga in western society has become many things to many people and this has caused concern for skeptics that believe it to be elusive, religious in nature, or simply too difficult to perform. But Yoga simply is just the joining together of the body and mind and can be done in its most simplistic manner by laying down, standing, walking or sitting.
By using your body as a tool through postures (asanas), exercises of breathing (pranayama), meditation or prostrations and prayer (devotional practice) you offer your mind an opportunity to observe and explore the many characteristics within yourself.
When you enter a yoga class do not enter with expectations! And if you do enter with resolutions and expectations embrace and explore the feelings that arise while there. No matter the movements, exercise and challenges that are asked of you try to remind yourself to observe your reactions with a mindful eye. Allow yourself to become immersed in the process of pain, limit, judgement, disappointments, joy, peace, tears, weakness or strength and embrace these feelings with acceptance and understanding.
This exploration, for some, is actually the difficult part of the journey! Not the pose or practice of the exercises (asanas, pranayamas, meditation…etc) but the mindful observation of our character. The awareness and insight we are offered into our true selves. To witness and observe our weakness, critical judgements, limits and to feel deeply the pain maybe farther than some people are willing to go. It is within this space of time that we are introduced to our true limits, our true feelings and what we may find there to be less than impressive and peaceful.
But when you are ready to awaken and know truth, you can be sure that the flowing path of the inhalations and exhalations of your breath will allow you to see the good, bad and the ugly that balance the body and mind. You will experience compassion that opens your heart, allowing you to feel contentment in both suffering as well as happiness.
When you grasp at life with the expectations of perfection and constant well-being you are setting yourself up for even more suffering and resistance. Life seeks balance, yin and yang, ebb and flow, black and white, darkness and light. It is the space in between these two opposites that support and equalize.
Yoga joins the small self (ego, physical, human doing) to the Universal self (spirit, soul, being). And in the process of this ever-changing fluctuation that we call life, we can breath softly and become cradled with contentment between these two experiences, balancing and harmonizing and all the while connecting the total sum of the organism that is the infinite.