Why do we DO yoga?
So firstly, we “do” the yoga postures for a few reasons.
To heal the body and to optimize the bodies systems so everything is running effectively. Heart, lungs, digestion, muscles, bones, nervous system, all internal physical systems are nourished and balanced through the practice of a variety of physical postures designed perfectly towards this end. When the body is strong and healthy, it ceases to be a distraction that takes us away from our spiritual path and our availability to serve others.
To balance the sun and moon energies in the body and balance the mind, so that the mind can concentrate and focus for long periods of time in meditation.
To purify the mind and body to be able to perceive more subtle forms of energy and make it possible to sit comfortably in meditation
To slow the aging process so that we live longer and have more time to serve and more time to develop ourselves
In the beginning, for many, the yoga postures begin as a way to just find relief from physical and mental suffering. This is the first stage and a very smart thing to do. Once this is achieved, the practice of postures will continue to strengthen and stabilize the mind, keep us running optimally and create a stable foundation for higher learning and evolution.
Similarly, we “do” the breath work and we “do” the meditation.
But I prefer to use the term “practicing” yoga, instead of “do-ing” yoga, because as many of you know, there is a lot more to yoga than just poses.
We have many “limbs” of yoga: 8, according to Panjali’s Yoga Sutras.
So when we say we are practicing yoga, it means we are practicing these 8 limbs, not just “doing” the poses.
Here are the 8 limbs of Hatha Yoga, steps on the spiritual path of yoga:
The yamas or ethical standards or precepts for how we are to behave towards others
The niyamas are recommendations around our own conduct towards ourselves
Asana – yoga postures
Pranayama – harnessing the power of the breath
Pratyahara – withdrawal of the senses
Dharana – concentration
Dhyana – meditation
Samadhi – absorption in oneness
So you see that ASANA, or postures, is only one limb of 8.
We don’t “do” morals and precepts, we don’t “do” pratyahara, we practice them.
So yoga is a practice.
We practice all of these 8 limbs for our evolution.
We PRACTICE being, not necessarily “doing”.
And so, we may come to the mat at first to stretch our hamstrings, relieve some body tightness, pain or discomfort physical or mental, but the more we practice and the more we dedicate our energy and attention towards study of yoga, the bigger picture, the 8 limbs, the more we come to discover that yoga is very much more than an exercise program to be “done”.
This is the beauty of the practice.
It is a complete science and system for human beings to evolve, if they so wish to step into that.
There is no bottom. There is not end to the self discovery and learning that one can unfold within one self. It is a bottomless well; an infinite vast universe within, that is a reflection of the external universe.
All we need is the curiosity, the attention, intention and time.
And anyone can find time for anything, if it is important enough to them.
What is important to you?