An Advertisement for Yoga
Yoga cannot be simply defined — not as a physical exercise, an Eastern philosophy or any other category. It must be defined by what it is:
Yoga — (n.) Union with what already is.
That which is seen by someone without a yoga practice as its fullest expression (i.e. what occurs on the mat) is only one of its countless forms.
You can practice yoga while you’re playing sports or going to work. You can practice while you’re taking care of your kids, studying, relaxing, enjoying the outdoors, reading, taking a picture, engaging in conversation, teaching/thinking/trying/doing/breathing.
While on a walk or on vacation, you can practice yoga. Into a relationship or while breaking free from a toxic one. While working a job you don’t really like into a position you’ve come to enjoy. While opening up to someone you care about or while ever pursuing The Best You’ve Yet to Become.
Yoga can happen when you stop to look up an unfamiliar word, or while holding one back when a better one exists. Or maybe while saying nothing at all.
While setting your alarm to rise early to work on your passions (or simply to meet the sun).
While writing unintentionally in iamb. While telling the truth. While acknowledging your situation and acting on what you should do.
While helping the elderly — or someone you’ll never meet — you can be doing yoga. And no one can say a damn thing about it. (Unless they’re your teacher.)
You can do it while you’re texting on your smartphone or when receiving a new tablet. While crying or laughing or getting a hug. While staying calm on neighborhood watch. While shopping. While playing video games. While waiting for the bus or taking the dog around the block.
When you look someone in the eye (or for a new job).
While your stomachs sympathetically growl.
While you’re lying awake in bed at night. (You won’t be for long.)
Yoga is starting where you are right now and carrying yourself to where you want to be: to an identity and reality that best utilizes your surroundings, one that only you can inhabit because you are a one-of-a-kind being made up of the same stuff as everything else.
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So in a time when things might seem chaotic or painful, uncertain or joyous, expectant or scarce, in wins or laments — know that there is yoga to carry you through.
Through it (and in all forms) you see that there is always room for improvement: one more pound to press, one more degree, one more day, one more, one more … ad infinitum; never reaching perfection as it’s traditionally defined because nothing truly perfect, in that sense, is truly possible. There’s always room to grow and movements to make.
Perhaps perfection needs a more reasonable definition — one more firmly rooted in the reality we all inhabit.
Perfection, then, is not “reaching or arriving at an unimprovable state” (a non-existent impossibility). Perfection is: (n.) the art of trying, knowing that you’ll never stop (trying).
Perfection is the art of positive human intention — yoga.
And you are what you practice.
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You may fall down or lose yourself or even experience pain, but if you’re not constantly improving — then you’re losing. If you’re not learning, putting in the required effort and time to achieve the balance and freedom you believe is possible, then you are slowing down … stagnating … stale.
Or perhaps you’ve just made a mistake. It’s OK. You’ll probably feel it right when it happens. Just back out and find a truer way.
That’s what yoga means. And those who don’t get it don’t practice.
So put in the effort. Do yoga — whichever form you choose.