If you’ve been on the yoga block long enough, you’re probably all too aware of the debate within the yoga community as to what constitutes yoga, an ancient practice that is most commonly viewed as a series of shapes made by the body. Yoga is viewed as “Ashtanga”, “Jivamukti”, “Bikram”, “Iyengar” ad infinitum, but if yoga as a state means ‘wholeness’ so is skiing, running, dancing, sitting, swimming, walking, making love, but above all, simply being and knowing it.
Yoga is the quest for the truth of our being, an understanding of who we really are underneath the layers of conditioning, samskaras, in order to return to a place whereby the sense of ‘I am’ is not limited by time and space but is infinite and boundless. If yoga is viewed as only asana it sounds like a tall order, yet practising asana in conjunction with pranayama, meditation, inter/intra-relationship can create the conditions necessary to feel one’s inherent wholeness.
To recognise wholeness does not negate the afflictions of life though. ‘No man is an island’ means every one of us is in constant diffusion with the known and unknown, shaping and being shaped by our inner/outer world. Rather, wholeness is the understanding that nothing ‘I’ do can make me whole as my core being is already complete, it is simply my conditioning that creates the illusion ‘I’ am not. The implication of accepting wholeness is then to implicitly realise that attainment of material goods and abilities will never make us whole as we already are!
Irrespective of whether one can do handstand, run 60K, throw there leg behind their head, slip seamlessly into splits, or win the Premier League will not add to the unchanging completeness of the inherent Self. What such endeavours can do is to break through conditioning that hitherto has increasingly masked our Divinity by forging new pathways. Yet all these paths do not lead to Rome, it depends on the commitment to understanding our true Self whereby we move closer to the truth of who we are with Yoga either expediting the journey or taking us on a detour.
If we’re becoming more compassionate and loving with a passion for understanding oneself in our entirety, able to sit in a still centred place through good and not so good, which is by no means plain sailing, perhaps this is yoga and it really does work. At this moment, I can’t ask more of myself or anybody else.
Charlene teaches yoga classes in Manchester and Cheshire, visit this yoga classes page for more information.