Dear New Yogi or Yogini,
I am not flexible enough to do yoga.I can’t touch my toes so yoga isn’t for me.My yoga mat and clothes are much cheaper than everyone else’s.I don’t have the body for yoga.
To any student who felt inadequate to start yoga and like they didn’t belong.
This letter is for YOU.
Let’s take a moment to STOP and introspect,what brought us to the mat in the first place and what is yoga?
The Yoga Sutra’s agree with the first Noble Truth of Buddhism. Everything is suffering and it is this suffering is what drives us to seek out a way to eliminate suffering.
This is where yoga comes into play. Yoga is a path to eliminate suffering.
What’s your reason for coming to the mat?
The “suffering” doesn’t have to look or feel incredibly cumbersome or intense. Sometimes it is as simple as the everyday, 9 to 5 stressors that have most of us “working for the weekend.” Don’t judge it or overanalyze it. Just be aware of it, allow yourself to feel it, and begin the process of letting it go.
And even more importantly, recognize that you – we – are not alone in our suffering. Yoga starts from a place of universal vulnerability. We all absolutely are worthy of coming together and breathing into a shared hope of relief.
You don’t have to be flexible to start yoga or be able to touch your toes.
You don’t have to have the “right” yoga attire to start.
You just have to be HUMAN and have the desire to relieve your suffering to start Yoga.
So, what is yoga?
There are two main ancient Indic texts that answer this question: The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali and the Bhagavad Gita. Both texts would agree that the path of yoga is a way to eliminate suffering. Yoga is clearly defined in both of these texts. In the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali yoga is the stilling of the mind.
However, as a “modern yogini”, I like to define what yoga means to me.
I always look to the Yoga Sutras for guidance. The Yoga Sutras are a very systematic text. The first four lines tell us all we need to know about yoga. The first gives us the subject of yoga, the second, the definition, the third the goal, and the fourth, what happens when the goal is not met.
I have created the introspective questions below to help define yoga for myself. I invite you to try the introspective questions and understand what yoga means to you. (Click the worksheet to get a printable version)
There is no right or wrong answer but just an exploration of what this beautiful, intimate practice of yoga means to you.
With this in mind, I think we can all fully and completely agree that yoga is the stilling of the mind. We don’t need to redefine that. However, we absolutely get to define our yoga practice.
Yoga is for all humans and is YOUR practice as you define it to be. No one can tell how your practice should look or what your practice should be. Only you can decide.
This is the beauty of yoga.
It unique to each individual.
It allows for our uniqueness.
Yoga empowers us to be us just as we are.
Yoga creates that space for us to be us if we allow it to.
Let’s let go of the limiting ideas of yoga and let’s embrace the vulnerable, empowering, and uniqueness together.
The pure, eternal Consciousness within me honors and respects the same pure, eternal Consciousness within you.
Julie Bottini is a 200hr Certified Yoga Teacher, Yoga Philosophy Teacher, Owner of Jiva Reiki School, and organic food ethnunsitsc. She brings the ancient teachings of Patanjali alive in her modern postural yoga classes. As a teacher it is her priority to help her students understand how the ancient teachings of yoga apply in the modern world. She discovered her love for yoga philosophy as an undergraduate student at Rutgers University when she took a Bhagavad Gita course with the world-renowned, Professor Edwin Bryant. She has studied and continues to study yoga philosophy under Edwin Bryant in both an academic and traditional setting.[/box]
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