((Yoga)) is the Art of ((Living))
I refer to the "Yoga of yoga" quite a bit throughout saithyoga.com and the teachings contained therein. And in choosing the name I recognized one potential misinterpretation of this name, but it was not enough to stop me from choosing it. When we say, “Discover the Yoga of yoga,” it is not to imply that we are teaching a Yoga that’s better than other yogas... I am not creating another style or approach. Rather we are attempting to capture the Essence of True Yoga including and beyond the forms of yoga we are so familiar with in today’s popular culture. So to discover the Yoga of yoga, is to essentially liberate yoga beyond the mat, beyond stretching, beyond Kirtan, even beyond it’s Indian origins while, of course, honoring that India birthed this sacred science in many diverse expressions and pathways into the Divine... into Aum. And so did numerous other cultures. They just gave it a different name. The Toa, God, Christ, Allah, Sunyata, etc.
I feel it is of utmost importance to, Once and for all, declare the innate Global nature of the science called Yoga and to clearly address why Yoga is not just an Indian thing from India. Nor is it just an exercise on a mat. Granted, it is a Sanskrit word. With beautiful meaning. Yoga translates to "Union"... to yolk together. The particular “flavor” of this ancient science of reaching Aum, Peace, Enlightenment, Nirvana is very much Indian. And Brilliantly so!! However, just as Gandhi’s irrefutable virtues such as Civil Disobedience in the name of Truth are not exclusive to India. Neither are the teachings of Yoga. Nor are the convictions of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s equality only African American. The Self Evident Truths articulated by our forefathers do not only belong to white Americans, but to all people of all colors, genders, and beliefs. In other words, they are Global... Universal... Non-Sectarian Truths.
This realization in turn exposes the worldwide tendency of the human species to categorize other humans as being of a certain race, religion, or nationality and therefore subject to the stereotypes associated with that worldview or “kind of person.” It’s a rather fixed mindset that automatically taints the other as being different and therefore unequal, lesser than, or even expendable in extreme cases. Therefore, the diversity that the USA boasts is based in tolerance of the differences of others without truly embracing the other. We have a strong tendency to separate ourselves from others. We may even “know” as a fact that we are all equal... And believe that we are all one... yet inside we still may have a tendency towards hierarchical thinking when it comes to other human beings.
The reason it is SO important to look at this CLEARLY and HONESTLY is so we can understand how this deeply ingrained sectarianism and tribalism prevents us from “reading between the lines” when it comes to receiving the Medicine of our great wisdom teachers and traditions throughout time! One can easily, for example, categorize Yoga as “woo woo Indian stuff” and therefore never open their hearts to the immensely practical and life transforming power of it’s systems. Another may categorize Jesus’ teachings as being tainted by fundamentalism and throw the baby out with the bathwater instead of sifting out the dogma and retrieving the highly Yogic pearls of wisdom that Jesus brought. One may in an instant, without realizing it, see an image of abstinent monks in their mind at the mention of Buddha or Buddhism and opt out of an incredibly Life Affirming encounter with the Dhammapada, the sacred Buddhist text.
I think you get the idea. And when it comes to Yoga, how many people don’t even touch it because it’s “some thing that flexible people to while they chant Om and other weird sounds.” Or maybe some guys say, “Yoga is for women!”. Maybe it’s even beyond predisposed prejudices about yoga. Maybe it’s just as simple as “I used to practice yoga, but now I’m not flexible anymore so I’m not going to practice it anymore.” And another baby is thrown out with the bathwater of misguided notions of what Yoga really is. It is time to upgrade what Yoga means to us. And that’s what this blog is. An upgrade mechanism. All you have to do is let the words in. Into your heart... Into your mind. Into your HeartMind... as we will discover that they are not separate in Reality... in Yoga.
Now that we’ve seen how our lens, or worldview, can taint our "Yoga Vision", let’s begin to take Yoga back to its true Essence and Power. Yoga... can be brought into an Asana practice, sure. Yoga... can be explored as ecstatic chanting. Yoga... can be explored through meditation. And Yoga can be brought into every aspect of our lives. Because Yoga is not the thing we are doing... it’s the presence we are bringing to whatever it is that we are doing... In this Now moment. So, for example... you can read the words of this blog right now. And in "autopilot mode" you may interpret these words without and open and receptive mind free of judgement. You may only be subject to the knee jerk reactions of a fixed and prejudiced mindset... if even subtly so. EVEN IF YOU AGREE WITH ME! :o On the other hand, as you take in these words, receptive to what they may require you to consider, while deeply breathing and aware of your posture, as you celebrate the miracle of transmission through written words by fully contemplating the nature of what is being said... You have Yogafied the reading itself through the act of being fully present with it. THAT's Yoga! You, as consciousness perceiving, automatically "Yogafy" everything you “touch” when you are unencumbered by the thought forms that take your attention out of this moment... The mental states that impede your ability to perceive with clarity and even Pure Love. In this context the work of Yoga becomes one of Awareness! One of Awakeness! And in that can be applied to anything. Eating, driving, making love, practicing yoga, practicing buddhism, going to church, meditating, on and on and on. So if we changed the word “yoga” to PRESENCE, it is suddenly free from all its associations of being a contortionist thing, to being an Indian thing, to being a woo woo thing... etc. and becomes an infinitely practical and powerful practice for everyone in every area of life.
There was even a point in my teaching career where I was seriously thinking about giving up the title "Yoga Teacher" for this very reason. Then I came to the realization that I don’t have to give up the word... I can upgrade it! I can "Yogafy" the word yoga itself into it’s higher meaning. This is what I mean by “upgrade”. Hence, the Yoga of yoga. And the Yoga of yoga is the art of Awakened living.