Yoga bridges science and spirituality, bringing a wider inquiry, heart and mystery to science, and deconstructing the myths, allegories, confabulations, and dogmas out of spirituality to its bare bones truth.
I come here [to this Yoga Teacher Training Course in Rishikesh] with the lived understanding (as influenced by Sri Aurobindo) that “All of life is yoga”. I find that our lives are like our yoga mats, where we face ourselves and whatever doesn’t know itself as peace. Silence breathes our eternity into time and we dance to the rhythm of our breath. Peace embraces what doesn’t know itself, so that it can know itself. Love embraces what doesn’t know itself, so that it can know itself.
Yoga is defined through its etymology as “union”, “joining” or “yoking”. I find it is where the apparent two come together, or are unveiled as one. In that sense its realization seems to deconstruct its meaning. “Yoga” as a term, is a prayer of aspiration towards realization, speaking in the language of that which has not realized its always and already reality. It is the union of body, mind, and spirit; it is polar aspects or appearances disappearing in oneness. It is where stillness, the immutable and never changing breathe the ever-changing, and the ever-changing invites awareness of the unchanging ground from which it is born. It is where there is both only breath and the breath disappears; where the inhale and the exhale that have appeared like two disappear into the continuity of one. In yoga, the story that “I cannot do this” dissolves into a presence and allowance with what is here and happening. In yoga the stories are embraced and seen for what they are, and pe
rceived opposites melt into a union where the seer is seen by itself and can experience beyond identification to, through, and with thoughts and the senses.
In yoga, there is no “effort”, there is focused release. Yoga is relaxation. The relaxation I am talking about is active, it is not passive. It is antecedent to and part and parcel of wakeful awareness or consciousness. The tension behind effort obfuscates awareness. An insight that I brought here with me is that flexibility of the body is directly corollary to flexibility of consciousness. And flexibility of consciousness has to do with being right here and right now and not resisting what is. We can only transcend something by fully embracing it and seeing it in the light of Truth. Yoga is the willingness to be honest, be with things as they are, and to see things in Truth.
I have learned that the purpose for all of the yoga sadhana is preparation for meditation or to learn to “sit” and free ourselves from the habits that would inhibit that. I take that to mean that it is all of the disciplines that will enable a surrender through stillness to Silence where we are lived and breathed by and through our true, unborn, undivided nature and the freedom and truth consciousness that is prior to our conditioning and beyond our pre-conceptions or anything that mind can hold; where meditation is a spontaneous arising of stillness that pervades our waking, dreaming, and deep sleep.
Yoga asanas as well as feeling all the senses, are an invitation to witness consciousness. It would seem otherwise and that this is paradoxical because we tend to get pulled into the senses and identify through them. The sense of “I” and “me” are tension. Yoga releases that because in trusting, accepting, and surrendering to the divine creative will and relaxing into it, arising sensations become about “the body” rather than “me”. The key is always in the apparent obstacle.
The word “practice” is used a lot in the context of yoga and I have been inquiring into its meaning. “Practicing” feels like what we do to achieve something. In that light, “Practicing yoga” appears to me to be oxymoronic. I am seeing this term “practice” used to point to a means to an end. If we know the “end achievement” as what we always and are already are, then it is more like a living of that than a practicing of it. If practice is thought to be what we do to achieve something that we are not, we can end up reinforcing our perceived separation from it and concretizing our efforts towards an illusion. In that light, I find that there is not the practicing of yoga – there is yoga yoga-ing. 😉 Or there is living yoga. In my own field I find that the only way to be a dancer is to be a dancer now (at whatever level). One cannot try to be a dancer. So the only way to do yoga is to be yoga, to be the breath of that union of body, mind and spirit. And in the light of “achievement
“, there is no one ‘doing’ yoga. There is only yoga and the emptiness in which it arises.
All of that being said, I see the value of our focused and disciplined intent, of discovering, exploring, experiencing, invoking, and unveiling the truth of being. And each step can be useful in developing the understanding that will perhaps one day find those very same steps or their understandings as bars to further realization.
Yoga is love. Love loving, experiencing, and realizing itself through life and all the stories we weave, no matter what the appearances.
Yoga is that thoughts are not reality, they are just thoughts; but believed, can powerfully inform our experience and the way we respond to and through it, and the way life responds to us. Everything, including our thoughts, energetically play into the totality of all of our conditions.
Yoga is where science and spirituality meet; where effort and effortlessness meet; where that which is conditioned and unconditioned meet; where deep relationship with self and all meets.
Yoga is the impersonal finding itself through the personal, and all conditions.
Yoga is permanence, Brahman, the eternal unchanging infinite, and that which can never come or go finding or remembering itself through impermanence.
Yoga is the One coming to know itself as the many and the many coming to know themselves as the One.
Yoga is wu wei; spontaneous action that from the perspective of a self-perceived “doer” could seem like nonaction; it is the creative will breathing itself as trans-volitional action without a self-perceived doer.
“I the Self reveal Self by Self in Self.” Liberated by this knowledge, one enjoys the play.” Sri Aurobindo, Sri Aurobindo’s Upanishads
Yoga is satchidananda.
Yoga is emptiness, the space in which all (stories) arise.
Yoga is this.
-Ellen Davis 10/2010