Contrary to what is sometimes perceived:
Yoga is not just a ‘physical’ practice.
Rather, yoga works with the whole body of human experience, using practical, natural, sustainable resources to help us harmonise and integrate all the miraculous powers of our body-borne conscious system.
Yoga is not about stretching the body, contorting one’s physical frame or standing on our head for hours.
Rather, yoga is about stretching our understanding of who we are. It is about training ourselves to be able to be comfortable, balanced, skilful and efficient in whatever place we find ourselves, even if it feels like our whole world has been turned upside down.
Yoga is not about just being chilled, just relaxing.
This is a particularly misleading misconception. Yoga is about balance.
The state of yoga is where relaxation and alertness meet and draw out each other’s complementary potential.
In a world where so many of us are very practised at being stressed, and carrying vast excesses of tension, it is not surprising that practices that help us learn to de-stress and relax are in demand and have become widespread. Yoga is about balance, so when we are overly stressed, learning to relax is very helpful. But being uber-relaxed is not yoga. If we just ‘go with the flow’, it’s not long before we are stranded on sand banks, beached on an unintended shore, lacerated on razor rock, or crashed on the rocks beneath an unforeseen waterfall. Yoga is about being in the flow, working with the changing, cycling forces of nature. The state of yogic relaxation is the relaxation of a great martial artist. It marries alertness and restfulness, so it’s sustainable.
Yoga is not some lame fitness option for the leotarded poseur.
Yoga is about being fit for life, with all its challenges. Yoga principles of balance and sustainability can be used to deepen, empower and make more rounded the pursuit of any physical fitness modality. Yoga principles are inherent in the most elevated physical cultures of traditional dance and high martial arts such as that of the Shaolin monasteries.
Yoga is not a ‘religion’ offering ‘the answer’, it is not the fix-all pill.
Rather, yoga is a robust and inclusive set of principles. It recognises that in all probability, life will sooner or later transcend ‘absolute’ rules. Sooner or later, there will arise situations where that which would ordinarily be unconscionable is the appropriate course of engaged action. So yoga encourages us to engage, with a spirit of openness and inquiry, with a spirit of wonder and curiosity, remembering that as a human being, with these two eyes, we will always see light and shadow, there are always countless sides to any question or story, and there will always be more that we don’t see than that which we do. Yoga then offers us a frame of useful principles and sensible questions for ongoing inquiry.
Yoga is not a clique or subculture. Yoga is for the whole of humanity and its principles can be worked with by anybody anywhere.
Yoga is not about doing any particular technique. Yoga is about how we do whatever we are doing.