What is Yoga to me?
To practice peace in the here and now daily, and to share my practice with others.
The only goal of Yoga is enlightenment. The purpose of the Asanas (poses) are to calm the body/mind so that it can remain still during meditation. During meditation, the storms of the mind are calmed. The mind quiets like a glassy lake which reflects the moon like mirror– just as the mind finally reflects our true nature: peace – and we glimpse who we really are.
Below is an interview I did for the California State Monterey Bay newspaper, one of the many places that I have taught yoga.
1-What are the benefits of yoga? (both physical and mental)
Yoga can reverse the aging process by improving flexibility, massaging the internal organs, (the only physical activity that does this) relieving tight muscles, increasing energy and circulation, improving strength, and enhancing a state of serenity. Yoga is something that has to be felt to believed because it is unlike so many other exercise modalities.
Two huge benefits of yoga are: increasing the flexibility of the spine, and relieving stress. I have found that these two together profoundly increase quality of life and make one literally younger.
2-Why did you choose to get involved with yoga?
My yoga mission statement is: To practice peace in the here and now daily, and to share my practice with others. So peace is a practice. Yoga calms the storms of the mind. When I sit down to meditate before class, all the tumult of life falls away like a glacier into the sea. I am left with who I really am – Spirit. Joy. Free. Limitless. Infinite.
I was drawn in originally by an experience I had as a student in a yoga class. Feelings of innocence flooded in to my heart that I thought were lost. I experienced an explosive release of a sense of profound safety. That was the pillar that became my yoga practice. A forgiveness… a flower opening softly… it was my heart! I had lost my heart and found it again. Yoga can do all that and more.
3-Is there anything else you would like to add about yoga?
The word Yoga means “yoking” of the mind/body (the mind and body are always one and reflect one another) to the Spirit. Your spirit is always perfect. It is joy, pure love, all power, God. We lose the awareness of our true nature in the process of daily living. It’s that sense of timelessness, rather than time-bound awareness. We can also find this timelessness through other things – walking on the beach, petting a cat, gardening, painting – whatever does it for you can become your yoga.
So through this “yoking” process, we are released from the limits of the individual ego.
Yoga is a method of training designed to lead to union of the human spirit with ultimate reality, and a release from the limits of the individual ego. A path to salvation. An end to identification with suffering.
My own approach towards teaching yoga emphasizes awareness of the breath as the cornerstone to unlocking the secret places of the heart, soul, body and mind. The breath literally is the life force. We breathe in at birth and breath out at death. The breath literally is Spirit. So we go on an journey together in class finding these delicious places and uncovering lost thoughts toward finding awarenesses of our Spirit.
“The soul itself is like a sun, a source of light. Each individual contains such a secret sun in their heart as the soul force behind their being.” “The soul dwells within the hearts of all creatures, which is the source of real feeling and knowing. Yet this is not the physical heart, but the core of our being, which we experience in the heart region of the physical body.” -David Frawley, Yoga and Ayurveda
Yogas Citta Vritti Nirodhah
“Yoga is to quiet the storms of the mind” Verse 2 of the Yoga Sutras by the sage, Patanjali. When the mind is quiet, the great voice of the Universal Self can be heard. We experience the inner teacher, and we are free.
“You cannot do yoga. Yoga is your natural state. What you can do are yoga exercises, which may reveal to you where you are resisting your natural state.” ~Sharon Gannon
“When you inhale, you are taking the strength from God. When you exhale, it represents the service you are giving to the world.” ~B.K.S. Iyengar
“Inhale, and God approaches you. Hold the inhalation, and God remains with you. Exhale, and you approach God. Hold the exhalation, and surrender to God.” ~Krishnamacharya