Why Yoga is Not a Self-Improvement Project.

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Photo: Andréa de Keijzer

I don’t know what yoga is anymore.

Time passes. We continue to practice.

Over the course of this way of doing our lives, we pick up a flavour for living, a way of appreciating the process of what it means to practice. We do a lot of postures. We sit still for days and months. Sometimes we think it’s helping us figure out our lives. But I don’t think that’s actually right. This is no self-improvement project.

I’m coming to feel that the heart of practice is that we’re encountering each other, spending time in community, building sangha, enjoying the presence of each other and letting that contact go deep inside and change us.

The essence of every moment can change us forever when we truly and honestly encounter what’s happening.

When communities becomes exclusive they become cultish. When we truly encounter each other the practice stays very warm. Sometimes you don’t even know the name of the person next to you. Nevertheless it’s very warm. It’s warm if you are open to seeing things that way. This warmth is more interesting to me than most of what goes on in our city.

Editor: Lynn Hasselberger

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About Michael Stone (Centre of Gravity)

Centre of Gravity is a thriving community of Yoga and Buddhist practitioners integrating committed formal practice and modern urban life. We offer weekly sits, text studies, yoga practice and dharma talks. Retreats, guest speakers, online courses and audio talks deepen the feel. Each week Michael Stone dishes a talk, often on primary texts by Dogen, Patanjali, and the Buddha, that are collaged with today's headlines and psychological insights to produce an engaged shape shifting dharma, at once historical, personal and political. Notes on these talks by Mike Hoolboom form the heart of this blog. Michael Stone is a yoga teacher and Buddhist teacher. He travels internationally teaching about the intersection of Yoga, Buddhism and mental health. He has written four books with Shambhala Publications on ethics, yoga's subtle body, inner/outer pilgrimmages, and the sometimes uneasy blend of social engagement and Buddhism. Please check out the website at www.centreofgravity.org .

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6 Responses to “Why Yoga is Not a Self-Improvement Project.”

  1. Marilou Chriscoe says:

    Great posts here. Thanks so much for all the email-related posts!

  2. Mamaste says:

    Just intro'd on FB to: WOW, I'm Not Spiritual, Yoga & Health & Wellness.
    ~Mamaste

  3. melissa says:

    lovely– community is at the heart. "happiness is only real when shared." jon krakauer

    warmly,
    fellow EJ Contributor
    Melissa Smith

  4. ayuyog says:

    I have often contemplated what YOGA is and have come to realize that it is life itself. Like all things, once it is integrated it becomes our very being. For me, when we say that yoga is (something) or is not (something), we begin to identify with separation. If Yoga is a participation in union, or a realization of it, then it simply is all things, never separate from us. As a practitioner, I do feel that Yoga helps others to improve themselves whether it be through community or not. I ask the question, what about the people who are incarcerated, who are bound to a hospital bed, who think about how they are going to live after the removal of a tumor. Their sangha and their access to community (ultimately the access to love) may be limited to their hearts alone. I speak about this because I have endured it, and peacefully and respectfully would like to share it. Namaste~

  5. [...] want to see if I have a mystical experience.” For those of us who have already gone through that transformation, the word mystical is barely the icing on the cake of that [...]

  6. [...] LOL: half the yoga community in the US actually buys into this shiite—at least enough to have clicked this link actually looking for self-improvement in a blog. [...]

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