La Gitane over at Yoga Gypsy just wrote a post on this exact topic, and I thought I’d turn it into a bit of a meme. Or a mala, as she put it!
Not long ago I wrote Yoga is…?? but it was more of a comment on the fact that there’s still a whole bunch of people in the world who still have no idea what yoga is beyond some vague concept of physical movement (which is okay, really).
And now, here’s my version – THIS is my yoga – well, some of it anyway…
Laughing when babies laugh.
Befriending cats and dogs in the street.
Finding out the truth about who I really am.
Heart openings. As many as I can manage, every day.
Running my fingers over beautiful patterns in tree bark.
Coming to terms with the full capacity of being a human being.
Yoga asana in the studio, at home, in the park, at work, in the dark.
Getting really real with myself & seeing reality without the multitude of filters we embrace every day.
Understanding I’m not what I think I am, and being able to get glimpses here at there of what I really am instead.
Not pretending. There’s no point in being fake with myself or others. Genuinely acting from compassion, which doesn’t always mean what we think it might.
Really getting the pointlessness of grasping at things. It doesn’t mean I don’t want things (possessions, lovers, money etc) but it does mean I end up not wasting my energy because I don’t have them.
Had a conversation with a girl last week about how there’s a perception that people who are into yoga and spiritual work are all “love and light” all of the time. And how when I first stepped onto this path consciously (as opposed to always being on it but unaware) that I thought that’s what being spiritual was. Now I know that spirituality is gritty, sometimes dark and very, very real. No fantasies. No fluff.
Learning to put aside the never-ending monkey-mind thoughts, the ones that want to drag me down into fear, hate and anger. Or distract me with material things I don’t really have any interest in, or cause anxiety if I let them. Yes, seeing those thoughts for what they are and learning to walk on by without getting too involved.
Learning to exist in the world without feeling the need to manipulate myself or anyone else. That’s a big, hard lesson because one of the stories that’s been running most of my life is that of feeling abandoned. We all attempt to seduce, coerce, have our own way, influence etc. We all do it, even in very tiny ways. Babies learn the favourable responses of adults around them and how to repeat the behaviours that caused the response they want. We teach them our game, and they learn to play. But as adults, we need to learn to disengage from that aspect of our habits and culture, because it takes us away from who we really are.
Learning that giving to others is one of the best things we have to offer to other human beings. Whether it’s a hug, food, money, a conversation or whatever. Giving opens up the heart. It’s not about stroking your ego – instead it’s about realising you are no more or less important than anybody else. Everyone in fact, is equally important in this world. Keep giving, no matter what.
Really, REALLY realising that in the end, we’re all going to die. It’s one of the conditions of life, and part of what makes it so special. But also realising that I am not this body, that who I am is part of something much bigger than that…
Honouring all living things as part of the whole, including rocks, trees, the ocean and the wind.
Riding my push bike, wind streaming through my hair and singing joyfully and loudly.
Participating in puja to witness divinity in all living beings, myself included.
Helping other people in whatever way is appropriate and useful.
Discovering where I think my limitations are and aren’t.
Yagna ceremonies on full moon and new moon.
Dancing like a wild woman.
Cups of tea with friends.
Endless rounds of japa.
Yeah… those are just some of the things that yoga means to me…
If you’d like to play along, please do so – and perhaps link to the other posts on the same topic to keep the mala threaded!