Yoga and Spirit


The definition of Yoga

You often hear the definition of yoga as the union of body, mind and spirit.  How connected are you to these three aspects?

Through your physical practice, attending classes, doing asana (poses), you can connect with the body side of this definition. You can feel what your body is doing in practice; you feel good from doing it.

With respect to your mind, this is somewhat more subtle to connect to via practice. If you are practicing in a manner that is balanced where the emphasis is on the breath you will understand this aspect. When pushing through poses as in normal exercise the mental aspect will be missed. When using the breath as the vehicle leading you through the practice the mind will be powerfully impacted. Breath is the link to the mind through the body. 

With this approach, you will find yourself calmer, more grounded, and that you can make better decisions in your life. You'll also have more patience. 

Three ways to connect to spirit

With respect to the spiritual side of the definition of yoga, you can focus on the following three-point plan to bring more of this aspect into your practice.

1. Commit to regular daily practice done at the same time and location. Practicing this way creates an energy around your practice where synergy is developed. You start to focus more on the subtle realms of practice which are more aligned to the spiritual. 

2. Set up an altar such as a table or shelf where you practice. You may want to include icons that have a spiritual significance to you. They represent the higher value in your life's journey. Yogis might use icons of deities from the yoga tradition, Ganesha for example. Christians may have a cross. Maybe you have an Om symbol. Perhaps you include a picture of someone who inspires your spirituality, think of Gandhi or Mother Theresa. Make the altar sacred to you. The altar will uplift your practice to a new level. 

3. At the end of practice, spend time to offer up the "fruits of your practice" to the cosmos, to the sages of the tradition and to the lineage. You are offering up the energy you've created through practice. This practice has the effect of giving back to those who've guided you. In offering up not only will you benefit but all of humanity benefits. There is grace in this gesture.

Why Spiritual?

The history of yoga shows us that it is a holistic system of well-being. Yoga is not a fancy exercise regime or weight-loss program. It is more than many of us have conceptualized. If you shift your practice to include aspects of the spiritual you can tap into this holistic system of healing, transformation and well-being more readily. When you practice this way you are less connected to the trappings of your daily realities - the physical form, your jobs, your status, your bank accounts - those things that provide superficial meaning. Rather you connect to the higher self, the self that is perfect and everlasting, the self that is not bound to this space and time. 

This approach can help you to take your practice to a much deeper and more personal level.  

Good luck!



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