What Does Yoga Mean?

molomeditate2Yoga has become such a popular practice. What was once the province of far away ascetics now becoming available at your local gym , online or in schools with various brand names to identify the ‘type’ of yoga offered or the nature of the environment.  There are many seekers and many guides each of them referring to Yoga .  I’ve been doing this Yoga stuff for over half of my life and once again am brought to reflect what the word and the practice means to me.  Many people know it as physical fitness.  Some know it as a commitment to a practice that includes meditation and a commitment to a conscious life.  It’s a spiritual practice which requires no belief but rather an openness to experience the divine in and through the vehicle of body/mind.   We have learned that it means to yoke or to connect or at another level to see and experience the connection that makes us all one and yet completely individual.

I discovered  Yoga in a book on the sale table at U.C.L.A Bookstore when I was in graduate school there in Dance.  It was a life saver at a point in my life when I was completely awash in the energy world, a dancing Dervish spinning out of my mind and out of control.  Yoga grounded me and gave me the ground from which to stand and to grow from a child woman rebelling against  almost everything , to being who I am , a grown up though still a work in progress.  It brought me feet back to earth and to begin to walk the path towards the ground of being. I am no longer without a center, which brings me to smile because for years I practiced and taught at the Center for Yoga on Larchmont in Los Angeles. It is also what gave me the freedom to find new ground, to move to Italy, where I now live and reinvent myself once again .

Yoga is and continues to be that which grounds me while at the same time freeing me from the limitations of who I think I am.   So I would define it as experiencing the ground of being and the road to freedom , the latter is in line with ancient texts that say the promise of Yoga is Moksha, liberation.  That in fact is what happens when I let go of who I think I am, this body and experience the eternal, unknowable, presence of love.

Along the way in living my life I’ve learned to value both connection and boundaries, both aspects of the yoke which helps me to focus, to work together rather than at odds with myself and others so that I am responsible.   It has not been an easy task to let go of image, the need to be loved has slowly transformed into well, as someone wise once told me, an act of love which creates something beautiful.  I have learned to practice Karma yoga,  to perceive and act in a way that develops a sense of self worth, a slow and painful process of uncovering, discovering and letting go.

Each time I come back to the breath it is new. Each breath I take I am renewed, or can be if I am present for the moment.  The body breaks down, the wrapping wrinkles and sags yet the process of regeneration continues until we die.  Maybe even after we die to this world, certainly  on a cellular level the transformation continues and our essence is eternal.

I’ve hungered for recognition and found fame, the little bit of it I’ve had, an empty feast that leaves me hungry. The echoes of  that desire still remain but now the song I sing is that of the hunger to experience life and to share that experience joyfully and as fully as I am able in any given moment.  It led me to writing and singing my own songs as an expression of who I am and who I want to be: Songs of longing, fulfillment, joy, pain, silliness, loss and love. I seek new harmony and balance.  I love the life I live   it with a loving mate makes it especially delicious.  Ah, another definition of Yoga, to share in love and savor the deliousness along with the bitter as all part of it .

I continue to practice and teach those who choose to come to me, who are attracted to the particular light which shines . As another wise person once told me, my job is to shine the light so that those around can find their own way.  Sometimes I still hear the echoes of those old voices, “After all these years why am I not known?”  And then a smile wrinkles my already wrinkled brow and a twinkle rises up from within saying, ” I know you.  I love you.”  And that seems to me to be a pretty dandy definition of yoga, being known and knowing you are loved.  One of the primary questions proposed in meditation being who am I?  Om tat sam.  I am that I am being an enigmatic truth.

I don’t know anymore what Yoga is.  There are lots of experts out there, I’m not one of them.  Seems to me that it’s something that happens to you, in you, through you when you just do the best you can and a breath at a time, string together a life with pearls and beads and whatever else you find to create and weave into Indra’s Net. It’s also the grace that arrives when you listen to the still small voice within that says, “I am” without a noun.

Yoga is.  For me it’s not something from India but from within .  An ancient gift from the divine that keeps giving in infinite form and expression.  When we ‘do Yoga’ we become who we really are .  We are ‘named’ or hallmarked.  Recently in a class I took online in Songwriting I chose to be called Shakti Pahr just for fun   Being addressed as Shakti was strange and delightful as well as feeling wickedly presumptuous and silly.  But it also felt like honoring that creative force of Shakti which manifests as you and me individually. We are all Children   of the Divine  with different names and forms .  When we create we touch and are touched by that divinity to share the gift and it multiplies.

Yoga: to share the gift , to create together a world in which living beings thrive.  I’ve heard it said that the world doesn’t need more Yoga Teachers, it needs more Yogis.  I don’t think that means skinnny men or women twisted into strange shapes or sitting in some cave in the Himalayas, although obviously they too serve life.  But rather for those of us living this life in the modern world, to meditate, to play , to create with the enthusiasm of a child in discovering and to share as adults with responsibility and love the fruits of the seeds we plant .  Om namaste.

About beyoganow

teacher - yoga and find your voice/sing your song, songwriter, singer, basically creative human being living in this moment in this place on this planet , mostly happy and wondering what's next.
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1 Response to What Does Yoga Mean?

  1. Joie Magidow says:

    Finally got to read this well written piece. It’s expressed with appealing openness and honesty. Didn’t even catch a spelling or gramer error – GOOD FOR US!

    Thanks, Joie Joie Magidow NuSkin/Nourish The Children US8267058


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