Yoga is freedom
I’m often asked the question – “What kind of yoga do you do ? ” You think this would be simple question to answer , right?? It usually tempts me to go deeper than the expected answers of Ashtanga , Vinyasa , Hatha .. Etc and even deeper than the actual types of yoga such as Rajas, Karma , Jnana.. Etc… I ponder whether the person asking the question wants the real answer or are they looking for the style of physical forms I prefer to take while “I do” yoga. I usually answer vaguely and give them the answer I feel they want . A short description of something they have heard of before . What I want to say is FREEDOM I “do yoga” for freedom.
Yoga creates space . Space creates freedom . If yoga is not creating freedom it’s simply not yoga . So what is this freedom I am speaking of ?? Let’s start with freedom in the body . Freedom for the joints to move with ease . Freedom from the bondage of working against tight muscles to take a step , freedom from pain due to misalignment in the body , freedom from compulsion to feed our body foods that will cause harm . Freedom from desiring to completely fill up the belly to feel satisfied, freedom from attachment to foods that in some way bring bring pleasure . Of course this doesn’t mean one can never enjoy a treat from time to time, but freedom from the bondage of needing them . Freedom from carrying around so much weight that it creates daily suffering in the joints ,the heart and the lungs . When people ask me if they can lose weight doing yoga the answer is undoubtedly YES … If you follow the whole practice, not just the parts of it that are comfortable for you . Yoga creates freedom in our bodies which allow us to live within them without unnecessary suffering . Yoga gives us the freedom to balance our physical lives with action and rest . The word Hatha translates to “sun-moon”. The balance of effort and ease . When we lack this balance our lives are full of only effort . What’s the joy in that ?? So many work work work without balancing it with rest . This imbalance disallows the freedom of rest , the time to rest , the space to rest and move and enjoy . Which once again creates unnecessary suffering .
“Unnecessary Suffering ” ??? Well that’s where the mind comes in to play . Yoga creates freedom of the bondage of the mind . It creates awareness of our breath and how I can change the quality of the mind at any time by changing how I’m breathing and what I’m focusing on . It creates awareness of the mind and the nonsense it creates . It teaches us to know the mind so well that we don’t fall victim to its games . We learn to still it , even in the face of a said problem, we can calm the chatter and see clearly . We still the mind and create space between the thoughts . Our untrained monkey mind will keep throwing thoughts at us unless we cultivate awareness of its nonsense . An unattended mind has no space, it has no freedom to move around and see clearly. It’s stuck . It’s so full that it cannot see the problem clearly and begins a major downside which can be difficult to recover from . Yoga is a practice to learn our mind and develop a healthy relationship with it . To see it as it really is. When watched you’ll find it quite humorous. The mind is much like a toddler that cannot sit still and is always desiring something else . Anything other than what is . Our yoga practice settlers us into what is and away from what we wish it were . Where each moment becomes an opportunity to practice being in the moment and accepting the moment precisely the way it is . Each moment is an opportunity to grow and learn . Can we adapt to what is ?? Can we see each moment and each person who crosses our path as a teacher . A teacher who is there to help us grow . With this growth comes tremendous freedom . The freedom of knowing we can handle each moment as it comes . If we stay in the present and meet the moment where it is , without needing the moment to meet us where we are , an amazing freedom arises. It alleviates fear, as fear is simply our feeling of an inability to cope with what “might” happen . When we practice equanimity we also learn the precious and difficult fact that all in human life is impermanent. All except one The Soul . This is a very hard one at times especially with the loss of a loved one . We intellectually know this to be true, but we are human and we love deeply the human form of another . In its highest state our Yoga practice allows us to know the truth of the souls permanence .While we may deeply grieve the loss of our person, we know in the depth of our hearts that they are not gone, just their human form is gone . What freedom that is to know this to be true .
Yoga gives the freedom of not having to judge a person , situation or a thing. Of course I fail at this daily, but that’s why it’s called a practice . Yoga allows me to know that the soul of each is as shiny and bright as the soul of any other . We are all souls simply having a human experience. Each one of our experiences are different , as is the lens we see the world though . What a beautiful freedom to allow others to simply be as they are and where they are . My job is to navigate them with grace knowing that they are exactly where they are supposed to be at this time in their lives . Phew !!!! I don’t have to change them or scream at them until they see the world as I do ! What a beautiful freedom ! In the end Yoga shows me the absolute interconnectedness of all . Yes even those I may not like in their manifested form . It takes away any feeling or interpretation of duality on any level of existence .
As I roll out my mat each day, let me be reminded of what type of yoga “I do”
OM Asato ma sadgamaya
Tomaso am jyotirgamaya
Mrtyorma amrttam gamaya
Om shanti shanti shanti