There is no Real Yoga without Love.

Via Ed & Deb Shapiro
on Aug 17, 2011
get elephant's newsletter




Yoga has lost its essence, its core meaning, from what it was originally meant to be. It is wonderful that what is popularly known as yoga has reached millions of people, as the physical practices are brilliant in promoting health and well-being, but this is a bit like having a tiny slice of delicious pie and thinking you have the whole pie. There is so much more pie to go, as the vastness of yoga takes us into deepening our understanding of the whole of ourselves.

Unfortunately, yoga’s very popularity has led to the loss of the key ingredient: love. Without love, yoga is dry, a physical and mental exercise that doesn’t truly touch our inner being. It lacks what yoga is authentically meant to be about, which is a direct way to realize our full potential, our creative nature, our pure understanding and transcendence. We can read all the books and know the teachings, such as the Vedas, yoga sutras, and specifically the Bhagavad Gita, but these just point the way and are not enough to awaken.

With love, yoga comes alive, opening the heart wide with compassion, awakening kindness, joy, generosity, caring and laughter. The real joy, the heart of yoga, is love. Love reveals the way for us to live in truth.

If you are doing it to look better or lose weight then it may be good but it isn’t yoga. If it is a physical exercise class or a social event to have fun then it isn’t yoga. But if it is touching your heart, if it is reaching deep into your being and revealing the goodness of who you are, if it is giving you a glimpse into what is possible, then you are tasting the beauty of yoga. If you feel joy and peace beyond understanding, that is yoga!

Rather than struggling to perfect awkward-looking postures, we learn to transform our minds and emotions and to connect deeply with our inner selves. Ultimately, this leads to awakening, the discovery of who we really are, free from obsessive ego identification. En route to awakening is the heart.

Opening our heart as wide as the universe is one of life’s most powerful experiences. The heart is the core of our being, the place we point to when we refer to ourselves. And it is the center of love. The purpose of yoga is to realize our authentic true self, rather than focusing on the egoistic and superficial self we relate to daily. To do this we have to be in love, we have to be in the heart.

We do not have to go in search of this love, or fear giving away so much that we have none left. We can never lose love; we can only lose sight of it. Love could not happen if it was not already an integral part of who we are. How can we lose what is our nature? How can we be left with nothing when love is the source of all life? This is the fearless embracing of ourselves and all others, enemy and friend alike!

When we complete the journey to our own heart, we will find ourselves in the hearts of everyone else—Father Thomas Keating, from our book, Be The Change

This is seen in the following Native American story of a child learning the lessons of life from his father. “There are two wolves that are fighting each other in my heart,” his father says. “The first wolf is angry, jealous, dishonest, bitter, and hateful. The second wolf is kind, caring, compassionate, generous, and honest.” The child asks which of the wolves will win the fight. His father replies, “The one I chose to feed.”

We recently led the Sunday morning service at our local Unity Church. At the end of our talk, over the loud speakers, came the Beatles’ famous song: All You Need Is Love! The only way out of political madness and confusion and world suffering is love. Yes, what the world needs now is love!

When one has once fully entered the realm of love, the world – no matter how imperfect – becomes rich and beautiful, for it consists solely of opportunities for love. — Kierkegaard


lotus by claudio aguirre from


About Ed & Deb Shapiro

Ed & Deb Shapiro are the authors of new The Unexpected Power of Mindfulness & Meditation. Deb is the author of Your Body Speaks Your Mind, now in 19 languages. They have six meditation CDs. See more at their website.


20 Responses to “There is no Real Yoga without Love.”

  1. ed shapiro says:

    Couldn't agree with you more Kate! Thanks for commenting!

    Everything is yoga when you do it with a loving caring heart & mindfully –
    I do ski yoga / Inner Skiing – bungy yoga / bungy jumping yoga, washing dishes yoga, take out the garbage yoga –
    everything you do with awareness & heart in life is yoga – yoga is a way of being & a way of life!

  2. Tanya Lee Markul says:

    Just posted to "Featured Today" on the Elephant Yoga homepage.

  3. Tanya Lee Markul says:

    This is so beautiful. Thank you so much. I love the story of the Native American. Much love to both of you! We are lucky to have you here.

    Posting to Elephant Yoga on Facebook and Twitter.

    Tanya Lee Markul, Yoga Editor
    Join us! Like Elephant Yoga on Facebook
    Follow on Twitter

  4. ed shapiro says:

    Thank you Tanya! Elephant ROCKS!

  5. ed shapiro says:

    The feeling is mutual –

    We luvluv being part of the Elephant Team!

    Your energy is a gift to EleJ & all of the tribe :-))

  6. Tanya Lee Markul says:

    Thanks and agreed!! 🙂 🙂

  7. Tanya Lee Markul says:

    Shucks!!!! 🙂 🙂 Awesome!!!!

  8. Beth says:

    For every post that claims to know what yoga is, there is another that says it is something else. Many times, these prescriptions rely on hasty generalizations that try to simplify a complex topic and reduce what is irreducible. While I appreciate the sentiment of this post, I think it might fall into this trap.

    To begin, I’m not sure I agree that love is the source of all life. I’m not sure that life can be narrowed down to one elemental thing.

    Next, I am not sure we can say who is or is not doing yoga. For example, the writers write that if you go to yoga for a social event to have fun, it isn’t yoga. Does that mean that if I go to a partner yoga class with a friend because I want to spend time with and enjoy that friendship, it isn’t yoga? Aren’t social events and having fun about love? And thus, if they are about love, given the above, aren’t they yoga? I’m just not sure that social and fun exclude love and yoga.

    In my experience, yoga is about many things. Some days, it’s about love. Other days, it’s about loss. The most intense experiences I’ve had on my mat was when I was taking care of my dying father. It was certainly about love, but it was even more about loss. Some days it’s about dragging myself to the mat despite a deep loathing of yoga; on those days, it’s about showing up despite my lack of love. Other days, I will admit, it is about looking good and losing weight. Does that mean I am not doing yoga? I would counter that it is on those days that I am REALLY doing yoga because I am showing up to my mat despite my raging ego and letting myself be humbled by the practice and brought back to earth.

    Again, I love the sentiment of this post, but I think it makes too many generalizations.

  9. ed shapiro says:

    Beth – Sorry but you are missing the point of our blog – we are not talking about love that comes and goes about conditional love or the love you have for your (probably wonderful father) – we are talking about a love this IS the essence of who we all are – we are taling about cosmic love that holds the whole Universe and embraces everything in it

    Yoga is not what you think – it is not a mental process – nor intellectual –

    sure you can develop great understanding but very few yogis have realizes the highest truth –

    Became Self-Realized through the mind / intellect – in fact in this age with wars – /

    so much ignorance which can be seen everywhere it is difficult beyond words-

    That is why many of the great teachers have said – only though Bhakti yoga – the yoga of love – dedication – can one awaken –

    Some of the greatest yogis & yoginis could not read or write – were illiterate –

    yet they became the wisest of the wise –

    So although yoga is brilliant in many many ways – is a great and wonderful practice – has helped so many people-

    Without love there can never be real yoga!

    May all beings be happy & free from suffering!

  10. ed shapiro says:

    also Thanks for your thoughts Beth – but there is lineage in what we write hear –

    it is not something I feel lightly about as it is ancient wisdom

    there is lineage in yoga just as in Buddhist tradition that goes back thousands of years –

    I lived & trained to be a Swami in India in 1968 with Paramahamsa Swami Satyananda –

    One of India's respected and honored Yoga Masters!

    We are in the sacred order of Dasanama Sannyasa of Srimat Sankaracharya-

    This is ancient and an unbroken tradition –

    It is not what you say:

    While I appreciate the sentiment of this post, I think it might fall into this trap.

    This is not something we thought would be groovy to talk about it is not what you or I may feel –

    It holds true from ancient times!

    Treasure yourself,

    Paramahamsa Swami Brahmananda

  11. ed shapiro says:

    Elephant is what people need more than anything because it is fresh, alive and intelligent –

    It has a sense of now-

    A sense of where we are going –

    & it has Waylon who –

    I adore!



  12. ed shapiro says:

    At least we agree to disagree 🙂

    Treasure yourself,


  13. The true meaning of yoga is alive and well in Anusara. It's main focus is the heart and LOVE!

  14. Tanya Lee Markul says:

    Just posted to "Popular Lately" on the Elephant Yoga homepage.

  15. ed shapiro says:

    YaY :-))

  16. You may appreciate this piece I wrote, in large part about heart opening that is fostered by Anusara:

    It has blasted my heart wide open. : )

  17. […] There is no Real Yoga without Love. […]

  18. ed shapiro says:

    Anusara ROCKS!


    theawakenedlife ROLLS!

  19. Yes! Absolutely!!

  20. […] There is no Real Yoga without Love. […]