I love the package that is what most people call “yoga”. It’s a complete DIY toolkit of self-help, personal discovery and evolution. It’s not just a load of postures. It is breath exploration. It includes some principles for living individually and within society. There’s a library full of philosophy. There”s this neat thing called meditation, which starts with things like concentration, reflection and contemplation. It has a shed load of health and wellbeing benefits which scientists and researchers are amassing evidence of. Corporates might like it too. It seems to help with productivity, creativity and efficiency. It can help you live with yourself, manage the thoughts that whirr around your mind, and can generally help with all sorts of things like our relationship to ourself, our nearest and dearest, and anyone else we come into contact with.
But usually, what I talk about, when I talk about yoga is that it has helped me see and understand the world more clearly. In doing so, it has helped me to accept the world that I cannot change, and hopefully make helpful decisions around those things that I can change. (These are mainly to do with me and my thoughts and how I live my life). It has made me a little bit more resilient. And it has been there as a constant set of practices that have pretty much been there for the duration.
Generally I find that when I adopt some yoga postures and movements with breath, I am brought back to myself. I am reminded of my inherent humanity. And all of our humanity. And then, as I progress in a practice of asana, and breathing, or perhaps review a line from a text like the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali or the Bhagavad Gita, I realise that I am more than myself. I begin to see the world and everything in it a little bit more clearly. I see things for what they are. I realise that there is something great, awesome even, in this astonishingly beautiful life and the opportunities that are presented to us in this life.
I went for a walk today along a beautiful river near to where I live, called the River Ribble. It was a beautiful day. As I walked the birds swooped and dived around us. Insects buzzed around. Some geese flew overhead honking. The river burbled and bubbled along. The interconnected world of nature hummed with life and with hope. It was as it is.
Wherever I go, whatever I am doing. I am always practicing yoga. Mostly it is a mindful style practice, reinforced with breath. Sometimes I find a posture that helps me. On my walk today I found some nice postures while sitting on the lawn of the pub. Onlookers wouldnt have seen these as yoga postures. They were subtle and helpful to me sitting on the lawn. However Sometimes when no one is looking apart from my friend, I will explore more notable postures. Like Warrior which I did today.
When I talk about yoga, I talk about the “is-ness” of our lives. The way things just are. We put a lot on things, objects, people, external phenomena etc. Often this is because we are entranced by the veil, tinted lens or a way of thinking that we have held for a while and are fixed to for some reason.
Yoga practices can help remove this veil, or the tinted lenses that shape our vision of how we think things are. The yoga practices help us realise that we are carrying baggage called habit and conditioning. and that we have distorted views of the world, including biases, addictions and expectations. And they help us to manage this set of patterns that define how we live and see things. When through yoga, we realise that we are enmeshed in a web of conditioning and habits, we can being to break out and see ourselves, and the world as it is. It is on ongoing process. Evolutionary rather than revolutionary.
Yoga practices can help you see things the way they really are. This “isness” is the business of yoga : it’s why I practice the eight aspects of yoga and work towards seeing the world as it really is. This “isness” is the business and this is what I talk about, when I talk about yoga.