Nope, it’s not that one.
Or this one.
Or even this one.
Actually, it might be this:
Or maybe even this:
Yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind.
What does that mean?
It means that we’re only practicing asanas—from “simpler” poses like child’s to trickier ones like headstand—because we’re trying to remain in the moment by working our bodies and our balance, and we’re expending our energy and expanding our flexibility in order to be more fully present during meditation or even at the upcoming staff meeting at work.
You can practice the cessation of the fluctuations of our minds when you’re driving—you’re thinking about driving.
You can practice when you’re riding a bike or merely focusing on the sensations of your breath as it comes in and out of your nostrils. If this sounds easy, I guarantee that you’ve never tried practicing “real” yoga.
Ceasing what many of us call the “monkey mind” (our constantly churning thoughts that are floating through our heads) is absolutely not easy—which is where and why asana does come in.
On the other hand, I don’t know about you, but holding a tiny baby—feeling her warm, soft cheek against your chest; smelling her soft, sweet scent as your nose presses the top of her tender head—this can be practicing yoga. I’ve never experienced yoga so well in my life like when I hold my daughter.
Also, this might not be quite what we’re looking for, but feeling an emotion—really digging in and being with your hurt, frustration, jealousy—this can be practicing yoga in the sense that you aren’t shoving your feelings aside and pretending to feel something “easier” like anger.
“We fear violence less than our own feelings. Personal, private, solitary pain is more terrifying than what anyone else can inflict.”
~ Jim Morrison
So yoga doesn’t have to look like this:
Instead, it can look like this:
(That’s my husband “pond jumping,” by the way—he’s better at practicing yoga than I am and he doesn’t even own a yoga mat, just a few different bikes.)
Because yoga has nothing to do with a sticky mat—that’s merely a tool to help us achieve this mental clarity, peace and restfulness.
For me, I’ll admit, sometimes my yoga resembles this:
More often than not, though, I would describe my perfect yoga practice like this:
And I’m certainly not suggesting that motherhood or parenthood is how we all practice yoga—obviously it’s not.
Maybe for you, it’s cuddling your furchild or it could be any number of other things too.
All I’m suggesting is that we keep in mind, when we do finally step onto our yoga mats, that our practice doesn’t call on us to be self-righteous or perfect, “advanced” or anything else besides what we already are—just being with and experiencing this now moment.
And this new now moment.
And this one.
This article was first published by elephant journal.