I’ve been physically journeying much of this week with a friend in town from the UK, and have come to realize the word “journey” is so versatile. It can be a noun, as in “one went on a journey;” it can be a verb as “to journey” someplace; it can even take on a more descriptive nature if one were to say an event was “quite the journey,” implying an experience was long and perhaps even tedious. The word “Journey” also encompasses a philosophical concept because, after all, we as human beings are all on a journey through life.
This internal banter brought me an immense feeling of gratitude for my own life journey, as well as the present journey I was on driving through Northern California terrain. Gratitude is ever-present when one is soaking up vineyards, sunshine and the seaside. Then, naturally, the notion of my yogic journey came to mind. I practice yoga, in some capacity, everyday. Even if I’m only able to breathe in Tadasana or do a few forward folds, the journey of my yoga practice is very much entwined with my life’s journey. They are one. It was a developed blending on the path of my yogic journey, though, that this hybridization occurred.
Passions are essential components to leading a fulfilling life. Usually they are developed rather than being inherent. Yoga is a practice that I consider a passion, but on my journey it has become so much more than a passion and instead a practice that I inherently live and breathe. Yoga is a practice that I live on and off the mat. The moment when one’s practice becomes a permanent part of existence both on and off the mat is, in my mind, a fork in the road of one’s yogic journey.
Some of the Western world has painted an image of yoga as a purely physical form of exercise, even coining terms such as “the yoga butt.” While this is surely all in good humor, Eastern yogic philosophy encapsulates more than I may ever be able to properly to describe. I suspect that true yogis view the physical benefits of yoga as a by-product of the practice and life style. Seeing an attractive physical form as the main objective of the practice is, in my eyes, not just impractical and vain but also like only opening the curtains of the window a crack…there’s such a beautiful view to be revealed if one would only continue pulling back the curtains.
I am not trying to pick on Western philosophy or preach Eastern philosophy. I’m simply observing what I’ve noticed on my own journey through modern advertisements that seemingly sell a “yoga body,” and how I find it counterintuitive to the spiritual retreats/classes that have unveiled to me a deeply emotional and physical beauty that can be attained through yoga.
Yoga is a journey. This is a fact. In a year’s time of daily, or nearly daily, practice one will see immense changes in state of mind, one’s soul, and also the physical body. The strength that one acquires through the practice of yoga transcends physical fitness. It is a mental strength, an ability to breathe through challenging times, and the cultivation of an indescribably personal strength that differs immensely between human beings. Yoga unveils to me vastly different epiphanies than it may to you, though we also may unite in mind and body around poses and concepts that feel deeply universal.
That’s what is so beautiful! The journey of yoga not only reveals truths of the Self, it also brings one’s own soul closer and in more level understanding with those of one’s fellow beings.
To warp up this philosophical, dreamy post, I will leave you with one of the most cherished quotes I’ve ever heard…
“Yoga is the practice of tolerating the consequences of being yourself.” ~The Bhagavad Gita.