This is a bit of a rant. But Elephant Journal readers are used to opinionated people.
I’m opposing a popular viewpoint. You might have noticed it among a ton of people who practice yoga, I’m sure. Here’s how it usually goes: I’m doing my morning practice/ going to this yoga class/ living at the ashram for a while because I need to get away. Or: he does his morning practice/ goes to yoga class/ is living at the ashram for a while because he can’t handle life. Lots of yoga students, and their criticizers—it doesn’t matter which—share the same misconception.
But here’s the thing: Yoga is not a way to escape. It’s a way to become more fully engaged.
If your greatest intention within your practice is to take a vacation from your daily life, or you think people who practice yoga are trying to become less aware of their experiences, you’re missing one of the greatest, biggest points.
When taken off the mat, yoga—asana, meditation, pranayama, the yamas and niyamas, the whole shebang—helps us embrace our life. All of it. Yoga teaches us to drop out of our mind, where the escaping into the past or the future happens, where the worrying, planning and rehashing happens, and arrive right here, right now. Yoga teaches us to go beyond our mind, and operate from a place of complete and total presence. When we operate from this place, we can fully participate in every experience. We can better handle our daily life.
Yoga is not a way to escape. It’s a way to become more fully engaged.