What does yoga mean to you?


Whilst attending a college module recently our Tutor threw the question casually to us.  What does yoga mean to you?  Typical answers rattled off were discipline, practice, stretching, the union of mind, body and spirit to name but a few.  Yet weeks after attending that module this question still hangs in the air around me.  What exactly did yoga mean to me?

It’s a discipline certainly and one I sometimes have to work at especially when the “mood” isn’t upon me.  My practice would lean more towards the strong side of yoga rather than the gentle.  I love nothing more than the challenge of feeling the essence of the stretch, whilst allowing the breath to gently flow through with energy.  Finding that moment where nothing else matters but my connection to that particular pose and living in that moment.   Yet it begs the question, what does yoga mean to me?

I allowed the thought to settle and a host of answers filtered through.  If I’m to be 100% honest, top of my list would not be the discipline but sanctuary, haven, place of refuge.  Yoga is my safety net.  When all else fails or flounders in life, yoga never does.  It’s my one true constant. It never falters or lets me down.  People come and go in our lives like the ebb and flow of the ocean.  Friends regenerate as old move aside to make way for new.  Situations change and situations alter.  Yoga, however, albeit changes to a certain degree, with no two days on your mat ever being exactly the same, yet the benefits of yoga remain constant.  After a personal practice no matter what the time span a brief 10/15 minute or 1 hr 30 minute workout the effects are always the same.

Everything about me changes when I practice yoga I gain greater clarity, calmness, peace of mind, with energy flowing freely.  Yoga is my comfort blanket with greater benefits and fewer calories than a hot chocolate.  Yoga is the lift I need when I feel low.  Yoga is freedom, freedom from mentally, emotional and physical stress.  Freedom from a cage I often feel locked behind.  Yoga is the realization that material things do not matter as all the wealth in the world cannot buy you happiness.  Happiness to me representing a state of mind, created from an inner acceptance and inner peace.

Yet recently yoga grew a dark side and also became a fear, a fear of losing my comfort blanket, my safety net.  As my business started to grow and expand I became afraid of what might happen if changes occurred and I needed yoga as a financial means to keep this business viable.  What would happen if that failed?  What would happen if the business made me lose the passion? Where would I turn to for comfort and solace then?  This exposed my fear of change but change is inevitable in all aspects of life as our needs change from day to day and month to month.

I have an enormous passion for life.  I soak its experiences like a sponge, both the good and the bad.  I want to live life to the fullest, embrace every aspect of it so I may grow and eventually slide tackle into a coffin at the end of my days with a hoot and a holler of “wow what a ride”.  Yoga is carrying me safely through my journey.  It is empowering me and allowing me to travel with an open heart, ready to embrace life to the fullest.  So Yoga I’ve realized for me means “trust in my destiny”.

So I put the question to you…. At the end of the day what does yoga mean to you?

Om Shanti.  Noreen.