My first yoga class, in a school auditorium was to seek relief from physical pain, I found a sense of immense peace and relaxation as the hour long practice ended. This was over 25 years ago, when it was not easy to locate a yoga studio in Toronto. Now we have studios in every block, its an allegiance statement to carry a yoga mat. The more ethnic looking bag for the mat the more authentic the person seems.
In certain parts of North and Central America I hear that yoga is being associated with the Hindu religion. Even so in conversation I am often asked the question “I hear yoga brings peace?” or, “Will yoga make me lose weight?”
Last year while visiting Pakistan, I was taken to a yoga session which is very popular with the young crowd. It was reassuring that in spite of the religious and political differences there is hope for this practice to spread.
In the west yoga is still considered an asana or posture practice, and one often hears accolades that “a teacher physically challenges me during the practice”. I believe that it is a start on the yogic path, that eventually staying on this path brings one into its depth. Then meditation becomes the natural outcome.
I practice yoga, and draw my life guideline from its philosophy, my health benefits from asana and pranayama. This is a lineage in which to refer to oneself as a yoga teacher is dropping into the unaware ego. Students come to train in yoga to receive their teacher training so they can share their practice. They come looking to learn the techniques and the terminology. After their training they stand inside the ‘gate of yoga’, with a clearer understanding of the vastness of yoga through the study of yoga philosophy, and its lineage.
Yoga is beyond the rituals and beyond any religious definitions. It has been, and is being understood as a timeless way of living our life. It can start as a physical practice, yet the real practice or sadhana happens when the play of yoga turns into a way of life.
The duality of life and existence, begins to turn into a sense of oneness.
In Mayan wisdom the law of Lak’e’ch teaches that every action we take is out of respect for all life, that we are living and giving from our hearts, “tu eres mi otro”, you are my other.
Yoga brings hope of how it will unite us when we live with its spiritual commonality and not look at it with our personal differences.