"It is unfortunate that many people who have not penetrated the depth of yoga think of this spiritual path to self-realization as being merely a physical discipline, and the practice of hatha-yoga as nothing but a kind of gymnastics. But yoga is more than physical. It is cellular, mental, intellectual and spiritual - it involves man in his entire being."
B.K.S. Iyengar, from "The Tree of Yoga"
I woke up last week at about 3:15 a.m. and this phrase was in my head, "don't forget, yoga is an inside job". It was still there when I woke to prepare for my day. I took the dog out, practiced a little asana and pranayama and then sat quietly in meditation. And that's when I remembered the truth of the phrase.
The previous weekend, I was feeling a bit listless with a house that needed cleaned and work that needed attended to. Instead, I went shopping for yoga clothes. I had this little brain "tickle" that told me how much better I would feel if I had new clothes to wear for work. The underlying message of the "tickle" was universal. If only I had the right ________ (insert clothes, boyfriend, car, job, salary etc.) then I could finally be happy! We all know this deep desire to look outside ourselves for some thing or things that will finally deliver us from the sadness or mediocrity of the life we are currently living. It is true that my new yoga clothes gave me momentary pleasure. I felt a little different, a little new, a little special. And this wore off relatively quickly (a stressful phone call with my dad smudged the shiny edges of my new- clothes glee).
Yoga is an inside job, reminds us to look inside, so that we may learn about the abandoned parts of ourselves that have a story to tell. Loneliness, disappointment, confusion, joy and fear can get tamped down to the point where we are unable to feel anything. The asana practice is a doorway into a vast landscape that exists underneath our busy-ness and our hunt for satisfaction and ease. Once we enter the doorway, the contemplative practices allow us to come into connection with who we really are.
As you journey through this life remember to befriend and embrace the various parts of you that have been forgotten. Through silence and contemplative practices, like pranayama, meditation and restorative yoga, a deep connection with Self is nurtured and sustained.