My Yoga is Your Yoga

Typically I love to share little nuggets with you about cultivating a practice that is sustainable for you where you are in this moment. But today I would like to share with you a small part of my own journey within this practice of yoga we adore so much. When I began my yoga training and education the first thing we discussed was what Yoga is. This discussion brought up many different ideologies about the practice, seeing as we all use these tools for different benefits. I learned that most of us practice yogic that can be categorized into one of these four paths or ways to yoga.

Most of us are familiar with branches of Kriya yoga, these practices focus on the eight limb path of yoga which includes the Yamas (restraints), Niyamas (observances), Asana (intelligent movement), Pranayama (mindful breathing), Pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses), Dharana (concentration), Dhyana (Meditation), Samadhi (transcendent state). These tend to be the practices most of us are familiar with and call yoga, but too often yoga has become only a 3rd limb practice. You may know Kriya yoga as these "types" of yoga; Iyengar, Hatha, Vinyasa, Kundilini and Tantric. These are just a few examples but there are many other types of physical and meditative based yoga practices.

Bhakti yoga, is often regarded as the yoga of devotion. This was how I was first able to move into a meditative state and my favorite way to connect to our collective consciousness. This practice includes chanting mantras and often with a group of others.

Karma yoga, this practice of service is similar to those of charitable acts. The most fundamental piece of this practice is that it is performed out of love for all living beings and without the desire for recognition. You may sometimes hear this is also called seva.

Jnana Yoga, the practice of knowledge. This is unlike information or learned studies because this is the wisdom that lies within. In this practice one studies the self through a scientific approach in conjunction with everything listed above. Due to the nature of the human mind this mastery can become quite elusive for those of us who live in this ego driven era.

It was here on this first day of yoga teacher training that I realized how vast this practice of Yoga is. I also realized that this would be a life long study and practice. One that I have accepted and continually re-accept with open arms. Not because I like to twist myself into funny shapes. But because I know in my heart of hearts that doing this work as both a practitioner and as a teacher gives birth to healing, to becoming whole again. That day my teacher told me that yoga translates literally as "to yoke". To Yoke means to join, to come together as one, in Mind, Body and Soul or perhaps as You, Me and All Beings. It is so beautifully simple as often times the most profound things are. I love to simply sit and ponder this notion, this is what keeps me rooted in this practice. This concept that this is not just my life I am living. I am creating, I am destroying and recreating this life alongside an intertwined with all of you. My happiness is related to yours, your beauty is mine, our sadness and healing is shared. We are not alone even if we may physically be alone. It is this thread of universal life that lives within all of us, connecting all of us. This is yoga.