Yoga in and out of the mat? What is the “real” yoga? Much has been said about what yoga is. Can yoga be anything you want it to be? Allow me to share some of my experiences. The term yoga comes from the Sanskrit verb yuj, to yoke or unite. Under the term yoga there are several practices and branches and beliefs. It is not my intent to give a philosophical discourse, simply because I am not qualified. However, I would like to share my insights what yoga has meant in my life experience.
Under the many different practices of yoga, there are many types. There the practice of karma yoga, jnana yoga, raja yoga, the most popular hatha yoga, and bhakti yoga. Karma yoga is the yoga of action or selfless service of others. Jnana yoga is the practice of realization of Self through intellectual purification. Raja yoga is the practice of meditation. Hatha yoga is the control of the senses through the physical postures (asanas) and breath (pranayam). Bhakti yoga is the ultimate practice to absorb oneself in loving devotion of the Divine.
If we go back and review the intent of yoga, it is to reunite the individual soul, to reconnect, to re-member to our original Self. All yoga practices have this as their goal. The question remains, unite to what? What am I reconnecting to?
As I look back in my life, the numerous incredible teachers I have met and found, all of them had one thing to say, surrender. My immediate gut reaction was of doubt, or fear, of protecting “myself”. I doubted, not the source, but the intent. Was there going to be a funny cool-aid at the end of this? I was afraid of losing myself in the process. I was protecting all the things I have learnt to be. I was darn proud of who I had become…with my effort.
Doing yoga has had a way of making me humble. It is never about how elastic I am, or how many suryas I can master. There is something that changes after my practice. There is something new at the end of my practice, almost indescribable. I only know I am different from who I was when I started. And I am more clear, more me. Practicing and teaching hatha yoga is a shower from inside out. I feel reconnected.
I believe practicing with an open mind and heart, and with devotion, makes me closer to God. Many people think that they are God. I am very clear I am not. I am part of God, in a very subservient way, in constant relationship with God.