Tuesday, March 17, 2015
Yoga? Religion? Harry Potter?
It's funny, because as I started to upload this blog, I saw my last blog which was about a quote tying together yoga & religion (and Harry Potter). And that's what this blog is about too, in a different way.
I recently read an article in which a yoga teacher was quoted as saying yoga is a religion.
Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but I was pretty surprised by this. In my time as a teacher, teaching & learning, I don't recall hearing anyone describe yoga as a religion. And for me, I certainly don't teach yoga as a religion. (I'll talk about "namaste" & prayer hands next week.)
Yoga as we are most familiar with it here, in this culture, is a focus on the poses, or "asanas". But there's certainly more to yoga than the poses. That's what I try to get at in this blog...I'm not suggesting you take your yoga poses off your mat (although that does help sometimes!). I'm suggesting you explore the other pieces of yoga & take them off your mat.
What are the other pieces of yoga? The poses, or asanas, are part of the 8 Limbs of Yoga as laid in the Yoga Sutras by Patanjali. If this is new to you - hang on! Stay with me! "Sutra" can be translated as "thread" & these "threads" talk about the practice of yoga.
In these threads are the 8 limbs. And asana is one of them. I'm not going to list the others now - you can easily look them up & each of them is worthy of their own blog.
For me, the best description of the Yoga Sutras & the practice of yoga, is that it is a practical guide for overcoming daily suffering. Not a religion. A practical guide. (and yes, if you have knowledge of the Sutras, I realize this is a pretty simplified description).
You might say "daily suffering?! I don't suffer daily!".
Do you worry? Are you stressed? Do you gossip? Are you distracted? Are you missing the joy in the moment & in your life because of these things? If you answered yes...you're suffering. Or at least, there could be more joy in your life.
And that's part of how I approach & teach yoga. As a practical way to improve the quality of your life. Even if you just come for the physical practice, the poses, the asanas, & you feel better because of those. You feel better - you're not suffering - you're improving the quality of your life.
I say that it's part of how I approach & teach yoga because I also mentioned in my last blog that yoga is about opening yourself up. And for me personally, yoga is a spiritual practice. I bring as much of the Sutras & the 8 Limbs as I can into my teaching. But I also bring in the Law of Attraction & other ideas that are important for me - I think every teacher does that. But I also try to keep it practical. And my hope is that some of what I practice & teach lands with you & you can take it off your mat.