Yoga...what's the point again ?
Yoga comes in many shapes and forms, but essentially it’s all the same.
When you’re practising yoga the goal is liberation. Liberation from an experience of separation which causes psychological suffering. When we feel separate or dis-integrated we experience ‘dukkha’ - suffering. We try to fulfil ourselves with relationships, material items, achievements and so on. Yet, even when we have it all, even when we have the things that were lofty dreams not so long ago. It still isn’t quite enough, we’re never quite satisfied. We are still left wanting and not wanting. Momentarily elated or at ease and then dissatisfied not long after.
Essentially however, our many problems, that seem like unique issues to us, can be categorised under two major headings.
1. I have it but I don’t want it.
2. I want it but I don’t have it.
In the yoga tradition, this seemingly perpetual conundrum is addressed in simple terms... Rather than trying to fulfil ourselves by developing only our exterior, the idea is to build an impenetrable inner structure.
Instead of being at the whim of circumstances, the teachings of yoga guide us toward an experience of self-mastery. As we shift our awareness toward cultivating a sense of inner steadiness, of presence in what we’re doing without attachment to the outcome, of enjoyment without clinging, of pain without unnecessary suffering, our interior life becomes robust in such a way that we are able to surf the waves of experience, ‘good’ and ‘bad’ without drowning or falling to pieces when these things persist or fade away.
So to practice yoga is to practice just this. To notice and experience the impermanent nature of life and lean right in. To practice yoga is to reconcile polarities, to integrate what is disintegrated. To shift from an experience of I to us. To experience yoga is to experience the ultimate yoking or unification of the dualistic, limited, changing nature of things with the non-dual, unlimited, unchanging nature of consciousness.
A hefty, challenging practice, yes. But what else are we going to do with our time but enjoy and breathe it all in. Then let go of it all as graciously as we can.