November 10, 2013

What is Yoga? ~ Julie Strittmatter

What exactly is yoga?

I struggle to create a concrete definition of something as all-encompassing as the practice of yoga.

During my teacher training I was required to find my own working definition of yoga. I stared at this question for over a year; unable to find words that held the significance I felt they needed. Then, after many days and scribbles on paper I believed I had found what yoga means to me:

Your On- Going Awakening

A room full of united breaths,

Breaths that stem from the roots of the heart planted at the center of our practice,

Ironic that the opposition of limbs connected the mind, body and soul.


In the midst of daily chaos and people who stand as walking contradictions I look to myself to find peace,

To my mat, to my mind.


A balance obtained with feet planted here and heart open to the sky.


I need not fear the clouds above my head,

Because my heart is the calm within the storm.

Yoga is a connection with our internal self in order to reach awakening, awareness and enlightenment. In yoga we work to unite: unite breath and body, unite breath and movement, unite physical state with internal state (body, mind and soul), unite to the divine, and unite the self with others and the divine that lives within them.

Through yoga we bond to something deep within ourselves as well as with the universe.

There are various forms of yoga such as Hatha, Vinyasa, Yin and Ashtanga, but I like to think of yoga as anything that works as a spiritual union. Yoga allows others to share their light, allows others to rekindle the light within themselves and continues to light the candle of hope that each and every one of us carries throughout this journey.

There are days that my candle runs short, melting slowly from the top and I manage to only notice the imperfections of the melting wax and feel its slight scorch on my arm. I once wallowed in the darkness and the heaviness of the wax without recognition of the light dancing fiercely in the wind of life.

Practicing yoga (whether physical or mental) allows me to recognize the light of the candle while subsequently feeling its imperfect wax, without my previous desire to change it. To embrace it just as it is.

What does yoga mean to you?

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Assistant Editor: Sanja Cloete-Jones/Editor: Bryonie Wise

{Image: Flickr}


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