The Mind just doesn’t “get” Yoga.

Via Brooks Hall
on May 28, 2010
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Brooks Hall yoga with friend

Yoga is in a realm beyond words.

For as crazy in love with yoga as I’ve been, there is a part of me that remains skeptical. Just this morning, I’m embarrassed to say, I had a moment of fear when I wondered, “How am I going to stand in front of those people and teach them yoga.” I was in a moment of feeling lost and disconnected, and I was about a block away from the building where I teach my first class of the day. And thankfully, moments later the looks of warm greeting and expectation from the class caused the doubting me to vanish. I was a passionate teacher, and totally into it once I got started.

There is an aspect of yoga (probably the heart of it) that is beyond words. All we really have to offer one another to pass yoga on is technique. Our minds can grasp technique. But what happens when we practice is ultimately beyond ordinary communication. Poetry tries, but only when we see through the spaces that the ideas open up do we get a fantastic glimpse. So, it’s not the words of the poetry or the angles of the arms and legs in a yoga pose, but it is where we go from those launch pads of language and form that is so fortifying and affirming.

So I really believe that yoga is beyond the grasp of the thinking mind. And I find it wonderful that I want to talk about it so much. Isn’t it strange to want to speak the ineffable?

The transmission of techniques is important. In a recent posts I’ve talked about my inner conflict with the traditional teachings, and how I’ve embraced the marketplace of yoga (because that’s what I know…). This is another angle: the importance of studying, using, preserving, living and teaching yoga technique. There is something very real and powerful in these techniques for practicing yoga.

It’s important to honor the teachings we have because the mind doesn’t get it. And when we think that we’ve “got it” you can be sure that we’re in an inflated state, or stuck because yoga is a window into the unknown. If we think that we know the unknown I’m sure that we are really oversimplifying. Labels and definitions help put things into human hands, but there is something about yoga that is beyond what any one person can hold by himself or herself.

I’ve been extremely fortunate to have studied extensively with the best Ashtanga Yoga and Iyengar Yoga teachers in town. And the situations where I have been so humbly blessed with beautiful experiences have happened when teachers were honoring these techniques for practice that came from India.

The mind can shape the container that yoga goes into, but that’s all. The imperfect process of our humanity becomes blessed with yoga, and escapes the container of ordinary mind.

Linda-Sama recently commented on a post, “there is a saying in India: dharma teachings are like a bowl of rice; you pick out the dirt and leave the rest to nourish you.”

There are flaws in the teachings, but even so, we might also be nourished by their wisdom.

*simul-posted at Yogic Muse*


About Brooks Hall

Brooks Hall is a Yogic Muse from Chicago, Illinois. In this capacity she teaches Yoga, writes about Yoga, and generally enjoys it. You can find her at:


7 Responses to “The Mind just doesn’t “get” Yoga.”

  1. I love your thoughts here, Brooks. This is the same thinking that causes me to liberally sprinkle words like "unknowable", "unfathomable", and "ineffable" into anything I write about Yoga, because ultimately words are only a tool towards getting at things that can't be described, as in "the infinite, unfathomable wondrous life-force of the universe". This is pretty much what the Bhagavad Gita is all about.

    Exactly as you say–beyond the mind.

    Bob Weisenberg

  2. Brooks Hall says:

    Yes, and teachings and words can help to cultivate a healthy body and mind that can carry the experience with strength, and perhaps less doubt.

  3. bindifry says:

    i think that suddenly being afraid to teach is a sign that you are becoming a good teacher. you understand that yoga is infinate & YES! ALL WE CAN PRETEND TO “TEACH” is techniqiue.

    my first teacher, suddha weixler (brought astanga to chicago) said

    “it takes 10 years of teaching to become good. 20 to become great”

    10 years ago i did not believe it. its SO triue.

  4. Brooks Hall says:

    Thanks, bindifry! It was affirming to read your comment. Metaphysically speaking, can it be true that we don’t always need to “know” exactly what we are doing? Teaching yoga–in the aspect of trusting the unknown factors–is different from everything we are usually taught. And I know that I tend to want to control things, and this is something I can’t which is beautiful and terrifying all at once. But, I can refine my understanding and presention of technique. So this is the appropriate place to direct the “me” that wants to control. Beyond that… Thank you beautiful universe!

  5. mary says:

    the mind doesn't get yoga????
    how do you know that?
    im so glad im a buddhist

  6. Brooks Hall says:

    You sure make it sound fun to be buddhist. Knowing that we don’t know something can be a sort of wisdom. Or maybe you are teasing me…