I can’t tell you how many times I am explaining what yoga is about. Or what Yoga is not. That it’s more than doing postures on the mat and learning a few breathing techniques. It is a way of living. Yoga is getting into a deeper relationship with yourself. It is deeper connection (Yoga=Union). Yoga happens everyday, everywhere. Though in the western world there are some well established stigmata about “yogis”. To name one: girls in sexy yoga pants and short sport bras, muscle packed guys, everyone health focused, eating vegan and detox. (By the way, I am a Yoga teacher and not vegan. Why you don’t have to be vegan or vegetarian to be a good Yogi, read here.)
Maybe you think now: I am not at all like that. Great. Because we are all humans, different and diverse. So is Yoga. Yoga is that complete and diverse, that reducing it on the Asana (posture) practice would be an insult for Yoga itself. But to give a satisfying definition of yoga, isn’t easy. It’s hard to express it in words. And you probably won’t find a definition that works for everyone. But we can start to make another thing clear: What is not Yoga.
1. Yoga is no sport or exercises
Yes we do really nice asanas. But without the breathing and meditation it’s no yoga. It’s not about a sweaty work out. Yoga is a meditative practice leading to more awareness and self connection, knowing yourself and your body, observing your present state of mind and body, accepting them.
2. Yoga is no stretching or acrobatics
It’s about preparing your body so your energy, your life force can flow without blockages.
3. Yoga is not an always-happy-and-easy state of relaxation
As a very clever yogini has written: yoga is an asshole. And it’s true, because during your yoga practice you will touch subjects that our ego has put under the table for a long time and all at the sudden they are coming up again and want to be felt. And this is not an easy game.
4. Yoga is not a superpower or about miracle healing
Yoga meets you wherever you are and teaches you whatever you need and are open for. Only if you are receptive it can help you on a deeper level. To truly experience Yoga as a “superpower” you need to make it an everyday practice. The healing effects though, you might experience already after one session 😉
5. Yoga is not a religion
For god’s sake, it’s a shame that we still need to clear that. Yoga is no religion. There’s no god sitting on a chair judging you or dogmas you need to follow. You don’t have to follow blind the rules of someone else or something else. It takes to self observation and self awareness, to connect to your inner self and finding the truth within you. Gurus are no gods, they are teachers helping you to find your own truths.
6. Yoga is no competition
Yoga is non judgmental and non competitive. So don’t look around, to your class mates, and compare yourself. And don’t compete with your own self. The only thing you do by competing is feeding your ego. And that is not yoga.
7. Yoga is not about showing up
Sorry we don’t need all the Instagram supermodels doing the craziest asana. Yoga is not about touching your feet, but about what you learn on the way down. It’s about knowing your self, observing yourself wherever you are on your personal pathway. All the perfect bikini bodies and peak poses are only communicating false ideals and giving the practitioner a model to strive for, instead of being themselves the best role model.
8. Yoga is not about doing it RIGHT
This is a very nice lesson they teach in Anusara trainings. The yoga teacher is not correcting the student. It’s not about doing the pose in the right way. As a teacher we support the student to find his/her own way of the asana. Because there is no right or wrong that works for everyone. Everyone has to find its own way performing the asanas. Yoga is being and finding your personal way.
9. Yoga is not happening on your mat
Yoga is not a workout. It’s a work-in. Yoga happens within you, everywhere, all the time. It happens in your behavior, in your thoughts, in your actions. Even when you found a large queue in front of yourself to take the bus, yoga can be present.