Why do we practice yoga? Yoga means union. It is a practice to connect body, mind and soul. The yoga asanas (physical postures) were traditionally used to prepare the body for meditation. In classical yoga, the purpose of yoga is to disassociate with the fluctuations of the mind.
In other yoga philosophies, such as tantra, which is a non-dual philosophy, everything is divine consciousness and the universe is experiencing itself through us. In this philosophy we are encouraged to engage with our challenges in order to find spiritual transformation. Your practice then lies in whatever you find yourself resisting to.
What does it really mean to practice and why do we practice - anything?
There are many reasons for practicing and I think we all have our own. Whatever we focus our energy on in life, is what is going to grow stronger. This means that we can cultivate certain qualities and consciously manifest ways of being, thinking and acting that are aligned with our inner truth. The way we practice (anything) will translate into our lives and will influence the way we do everything. Consciously practicing to be or do something in a certain way is practicing living life the way we choose to live it. Practice is an opportunity to consciously choose how we want to live and act in the world and engage with those around us.
Practicing essentially means to focus our energy and attention on something specific. The fact that we can focus our attention on certain qualities means that these qualities already exist within us. Practice therefore starts with being. We do not need to constantly strive to be different and improve. We are already complete, and practicing gives us an opportunity to uncover these qualities that lie within us and act more in alignment with who we are already. When we practice, we are just striving to be more fully ourselves.
Because of the infinite vastness of the universe within us, the beauty is that practicing and getting to know ourselves will never end. There will always be new places within ourselves to discover. How we practice and meet these new places within us determines how we travel through the world. The relationship we have with ourselves influences our relationships with others. My practice is a way for me to remember my true essence, discover and be who I am, and live my truth.
There are infinite possibilities for what we can choose to cultivate and practice. I practice doing everything in connection with my breath and with presence and focus. I consciously practice to recognize and sharpen my capacity to be aware, acting and living with intention, being present, focusing on what is in front of me and not holding on to the illusion of permanence. I practice feeling grateful and doing everything gracefully and with love. When we step onto our mats it is a bit like a mini-rehearsal for life and we can choose how we want to live and show up in the world. Yoga helps me learn how to consciously place my feet on this earth step by step. We practice in order to manifest a world and a life around us that is in alignment with who we truly are.
Yoga is practicing the art of living.
I would love to hear in the comments below why you practice and what your thoughts are on this.