When people find out that I teach yoga, I’ve noticed more and more often lately that their immediate accompanying inquiry is often: ‘What made you get into that?’
It’s a good question, when you step back and ask.
Being 100% honest, why do I practice?
Today, there is a trendy and slightly stigmatic element to the way the world views modern-day, ‘Westernized’ yoga. Some stick up their noses and turn away from it. They say that yoga has become “commercialized”, that “anyone can become a teacher these days”, that it’s “no longer about the practice itself”.
Others see yoga in the same light from a completely different side of the coin - to them, yoga is a shiny object painted with body confidence, smooth skin, vegan food, and yoga pants. In this case, they usually run towards it with crazed eyes and sweaty palms…
Well, I’m not going to sit here and tell you that I don’t love yoga pants and vegan food, and yes, I want clear skin too, don’t sue me… But our yoga, our practice, the thing that pulls yogis onto the mat day after day, month after month, year after year, simply isn’t a façade.
You see, the skeptics can turn up their nose, and that’s their opinion, and that’s okay.
The trend-chasers can run to their mat and practice every day of the week (until a new idea steals their attention), and that’s okay, too.
More likely than not, these types of people will not adopt a regular yoga practice into their lives long-term. And that’s okay.
Yoga doesn’t judge.
‘Western’ yogis do yoga for the same reason why yoga students have been practicing since the Sutra ages. I’m not saying that me or my friends roll out our yoga mats and wait for Samadhi, but the more I practice and the more yogis I connect with, the more I realize that the ultimate goal - the goal of SELF-IMPROVEMENT - is Universal.
Because how else can we really stop for a second and just breathe?
Time moves so fast and we all see it, but we don’t cut out the time for ourselves on a daily basis to sit in silence. Ancient yogis used the physical practice, or Asana, to tire the body and prepare the mind for meditation.
What I see amongst type-A, yogis-on-steroids style practitioners today (myself not discluded), is the ability for yoga to simply ground.
And in that grounding, in that stillness, maybe we are able to touch that infinite bliss. Even if just for the moment.
And isn’t that the “goal” of yoga?
To remaining skeptics of “modern” yoga - I would like to leave you with a final statement: yoga is here for you. Yoga will always be here for you. You don’t have to do yoga. You don’t have to like yoga. But, yoga is here for you.
To the curious trenders - my final statement for you is this: yoga is here for you. Yoga will always be here for you. You can do yoga as much as you like. And if you stop practicing for a while, for months, years… yoga is here for you. Something else may capture your attention today. But, yoga is here for you.
So, why yoga?
Because I don’t know many things that make my body feel good,
My mind feel light and free,
My stomach digest better,
My brain find presence quicker and more often,
My mouth find a smile without even trying,
My ears alert to the music and sounds around me,
My soul untethered,
And my creative self fly, without limits, right past the boundaries of my wildest dreams - time and time again.
Yoga doesn’t judge. Yoga meets you where you are and says, “Hello!”
Yoga receives your timid gestures with a smiling face and open arms.
Yoga picks you up when you fall, and says, “I love you.”
… Why not yoga?