The Sanscrit word Yoga means to unite. Yoga is not about a pose or whether you can place your body in a particular shape. Yoga is a sacred way of life that invites us to discover the divine nature of ourselves. It is an eight step Path toward self-discovery and self-realization that invites us to be the best version of ourselves and also acknowledge, with forgiveness and compassion, when we are not.
In these uncertain times, it is easy to fall into the habitual pattern of fear and succumb to negative energy. It is also in these times that the biggest lessons can be learned and we are presented with opportunities for inquiry, growth and evolution.
There is a Cherokee story in which a grandfather explains to his grandson that two animals live inside his heart, a wolf and a lamb. When the grandson asks what to do, the grandfather replies, “feed the lamb”. As Deborah Adele gracefully explains in her book, The Yamas & Niyamas, (the first two steps on the Yogic Path) this story beautifully illustrates the reality of what exists inside each of us. “We need to respect the wolf in us; if we don’t, we may become self-righteous and vulnerable to being eaten by the wolf. Whatever we pretend isn’t there will unconsciously use us. But we can choose to feed the lamb and grow ourselves into someone more compassionate and kind to both ourselves and others. We must be willing to look at the selfishness and greed and anger that lies in us, but feed the greatness.”
These times invite us to look inside, to Practice these first two limbs of Yoga and draw upon our compassion, courage, boldness and contentment, along with an understanding of how we get in our own way. Most of all, we are invited to receive each moment with an open heart and let go of the notion that we can control it. As Adele describes, “[t]o be strong enough to engage each moment with integrity and at the same time to be soft enough to flow with the current of life.”
In these current times, Yoga invites us to “feed the lamb” and “flow with the current of life”. Our Yoga Practice reminds us to take care of ourselves, be kind to each other and help people who are in need. The Yoga Mat is just the first step in our Practice, it is up to each of us to take our Practice off of the Mat and into our homes, communities, and most of all, into our divine hearts, for it’s here that we will affect true change.