What is Yoga?
Yoga is a practice that builds one experience upon another – moment by moment. It is a practice which demonstrates that change itself can only occur in the present whilst desires, hopes and fears exist in the past and future. Yoga is a practice intended to change us; the way we think, the way we behave and especially the way we feel and process experience.
Yoga works with the body and breath. The body and breath are in continuous relationship with each other to form a dynamic experience in the moment. Body and breath experiences are in the here and now. It is the mind that lags in the past or projects itself to the future. Yoga practice shows us that it is the behaviour of the mind, its habits and tendencies to hold on to the past or to leap into the future that cause much of our suffering. Yoga practice trains the mind to enter the here and now such that it can be formed in the present rather than by the past or in the hopes and fears of the future.
Yoga has been practised for centuries. There are many different methodologies that support practitioners of yoga. Irrespective of methodologies, Yoga practice shows us that even though we differ in our capacity to apply ourselves physically, intellectually and emotionally as long as we work within the moment, in the present within the current ‘point in time’ experience, change can occur; we can do something in this moment that makes a difference. Yoga teaches us that change is a process built on moments of experience rather than just the flow of time. The only place we can work for change is in the here and now. Through practice we develop greater sensibilities about ourselves, our actions and our tendencies. Practice develops us, we don’t develop practice. If we impose ourselves (mindset or asmita) upon practice we just get more of the same. The practice of entering into the relationship of the body and the breath – entering into the moment of experience - frees us from the domination of the mind with its prejudices and doubts. Practice asks that we become less identified with thoughts and more involved in the dynamic relationship that exists within our being at an exact point in time.
In entering the here and now we learn that action requires awareness whilst movement is habitual and unconscious. Yoga teaches ethical action – action that will bring balance and harmony within the individual.
Yoga practice humbles us as we witness the often times deluded arrogance of the mind and teaches us to act from a place of honesty and acceptance of who we are, a place of quiet confidence, a place of compassion.