Remember that definition of yoga you learned way back in your first yoga teacher training? Or the first time you read the yoga sutras?
You might have heard that yoga means to "yoke" or "unite." Your teacher may have eloquently described how when your movement is linked with your breath, that's yoga.
Hmm... is that really true?
Don't get me wrong, I have said that very same thing to many students, many times.
Starting out in a yoga asana class, this makes sense. First step, breathe. Second step, try to keep breathing while you move. Third step, try to keep focusing on your breath even when it's hard.
But what about the fourth step, or the fifth? What about the possibility of yoga when you're not moving? When you're in traffic, or in line at the grocery store? And what about when your parent dies and you're left weeping in the darkness of your closet when no one else is home?
Surely yoga, in all it's wisdom, has more to offer than just linking movement with breath.
Oh, and then there's the grand illusion that we think we're uniting with other people when we practice yoga asana. Sure - maybe, after class we smile at our classmates. Or we're more kind to those we see throughout the rest of the day. But - there's the other side to our interpersonal relationships in yoga class. And I'm sure you've felt awfully separate and pissed off in class from time to time.
(Thank you for being honest).
So let's get real. We are working on the whole "I ought to feel more compassion towards others," and "I wish I wasn't so judgmental of my friends and family... or myself" but we are often doing it without the power to do it.
We have been convinced, brainwashed even, to think that our ego has the power to save the day and end all our suffering. If only we could get to our cushion every morning, eat totally vegan, and remember our mantra all the freakin time. If only we weren't so lazy, undisciplined, or unmotivated.
Uggh. I've had enough.
Our egos can't do it. And that doesn't mean we've failed.
The power of yoga (true, ultimate yoga - the yoking of the individual with the entirety) comes from surrendering to the Divine.
The power to love our neighbor comes from the Divine.
The power to accept our friends and family... just as they are... comes from the Divine.
The power to accept ourselves and all of our limitations comes from the Divine.
And this, to me, is closer to the whole story. We must have a willingness to look at the limitations of our own self and of our analytical mind to experience yoga. We must sit down, shut up, and take in what happens in silence. Only then can we stop the madness of our ego clinging and feel whole.