The very first time I heard this expression, Yoga is Life, was at my Yoga Teacher Training. Our main instructor, Puspa, said this to us at the beginning of our journey. I clearly remember how she was saying that all the teachings and insights she had to offer to us to take along on our path to spiritual evolvement, will be understood in months’, years’ time. Because they need time to be fully and utterly understood and to be applied correctly in our lives and teachings. And let me tell you, she was right.
When she mentioned these words, I did not understand what she was trying to say with this reference. “What does she want to imply with this metaphor: Yoga is Life?” I left the teacher training with keep remembering these three words in my head, trying to figure out the message of it by using my brain, by thinking rather than hearing and listening to my Self and my intuition. And as always, that was the problem. But once, I started to look at yoga with a more aware and conscious mindset; once I started to transform even more; once I deepened myself in its philosophy; once I dived deep into its practise to unite my body – mind – Soul; once I understood the real reason and purpose of yoga, I got to understand the significance of those three words.
But let’s start at the beginning. Yoga is a Sanskrit originated word that means “unity, to be connected”. It refers to the union with yourSelf, to the unity of the body – mind – soul. When you practise yoga, you unite your mind, the breath, and the physical body movement. You unite yourself with the Universe. When it comes to physicality, the actual aim of yoga practise is to make you be able to sit comfortably in lotus position, so that meditation itself can be practised without any disturbance in the physical body. These facts are commonly known. But if you are on the path of embodying the essence of love and peace of the Self; on the path on enlightenment; and if you are aiming to become aware and conscious; then there are more meaningful lessons and intentions behind yoga that are advised to be discovered by the practitioner.
One of them is the topic of this blog: Yoga is Life. So, what does it mean?
Yoga itself mirrors life. Whatever you are experiencing during your practice, you are experiencing the same things in your life. Meaning that when you are practising yoga, you are practising life. You are getting ready for life itself. Have a look at it.
When you step on your mat and start following the teacher’s instructions or you are creating your own flow, first thing you are doing is becoming aware, and becoming present. You are focusing and paying attention to the happenings in you and around you. That is how you should be in everyday life. When you are doing your everyday things; brushing your teeth, having breakfast, dressing up, going to work, meditating, reacting to circumstances that are happening for you; are all should be done with consciousness. No matter what it is you are doing in the now, your mind, your consciousness should be focused on it and only on it. Let me put here for better understanding a little section from a book that was one of the very first ones that I got my hands on at the start of my journey to become aware. I highly recommend it. It explains awareness beautifully and with simplicity, using great examples for better digestion about mindfulness. In my opinion, it is such a great read at the beginning of your journey of consciousness. It was a huge help for me, as well that assisted a lot to understand what being aware means and requires. The book is “The Miracle of Mindfulness” by Thich Nhat Hanh. And the section is:
“If while washing the dishes, we think only of the cup of tea that awaits us, thus hurrying to get the dishes out of the way as if they were a nuisance, then we are not “washing the dishes to wash the dishes.” What’s more, we are not alive during the time we are washing the dishes. In fact, we are completely incapable of realising the miracle of life while standing at the sink. If we can’t wash the dishes, the chances are we won’t be able to drink our tea either. While drinking the cup of tea, we will only be thinking of the other things, barely aware of the cup in our hands. Thus we are sucked away into the future – and we are incapable of actually living one minute of life.”
In my opinion, this is simple yet effective example and explanation of mindfulness.
Secondly, whilst you are practising your yoga, you are creating asanas. Some poses are easier, some are slightly more difficult. Some are giving you to feel more and stronger sensations within your physical body. There are, also, challenging postures that are taking a lot of preparation and practice for one to be able to form. That is just how it is. And that is the way with life, as well. There are happenings in life that you can handle with ease, there are ones that takes a bit more effort to get through or to learn the needed lesson, and there will be ones, that are most likely new and life changing experiences that you have not come across before, takes longer time to overcome them, maybe a lot more time and effort. And just like with trying to form that particular yoga asana, that will require a lot of retries and “falls and back ups” from you so that at the end you can say that you have made it, the same applies to the happenings of life. They require a lot of tries, ups and downs and falls and back ups. But as they say, it is the journey we should be focusing on and enjoying rather than the destination. Enjoy that you dare, how you are overcoming those happenings and who you get to become in the meantime. And, most importantly, in the meantime, along the journey, you get to learn a lot about you, you get to grow and transform, you get to change your approaches towards things. And that is beautiful, that is the aim of it all.
And lastly, another example that can be helpful to understand what “Yoga is life” means is about how not two days, nor two practises are the same. Meaning, depending on your given happenings in life, there are days when you are flowing through the practise, you are getting in and out of postures, even the challenging ones, with ease and grace. But there is another day, when no matter how much attention you are having in the moment or at least you are trying to have, even a well - practised and other times easy Warrior III causes troubles and challenges. All because you are having certain experiences in life that takes your energy and attention away due to them being so important or traumatic, or you are not in the mindset to overcome those false and lying thoughts you are having in your head and you let them get the worst out of you and your practise. Same rule applies to life, as well. There are days when no matter what the weather is like, no matter if you got on the wrong train to work, you are just taking all in with a smile on your face because you are conscious and having the right mindset about life and its experiences for you. But there are other days, when you get out of the wrong side of the bed literally and you think that your whole day is ruined, and it would be best to just sleep through the day.
I could have written more and more examples to explain deeper and thoroughly the phrase “Yoga is Life” but I think you understand my point. One aim of yoga is to make you see what you have and what you can do. To make you see and understand how you can interact with the World today, it helps you to learn from certain experiences and it shows you how to move on after. It turns your energy into the right things. The work in yoga is not just about to perform that shape but to be uncomfortable, to figure out what tools you are having available to settle into the pose, into that uncomfortable place. Yoga generates a relationship with life, with the uncomfortable situations we are experiencing, and it teaches us how to interact with them. The practise of yoga aims to make you feel the sensation of your body, to make you pay attention to where it arises within your physicality and to make you aware as to how that sensation make you feel.
Yoga is a journey just like life and we get to learn about it till the day we die. There is no perfection in it , nor in life, and we all get to do our own yoga, just like our own life. Yoga is your life, that creates harmony and balance. Not just in the poses, to be able to do them, but it creates harmony and balance in life and within ourselves, as well.