What is yoga?
I get that question often.
I give the answers that I think they want.
They don’t even know the question, and how can I really give an answer?
We can talk about the Sutras, the Vedic texts.
The history the lineage.
Or we can talk about the seemingly, and maybe realistically, unobtainable poses.
The never ending physical pursuit of the elusive inversion or backbend.
The hand that is most likely never going to reach the foot in that position.
We can talk about the mysterious limbs.
Each one more seemingly out of reach.
Each one so f*cking complicated in its simplicity.
Life just cannot be that simple.
It must be painful, and confusing.
That kind of basicness is not in our nature.
At least not now.
Not at this stage of our evolution.
So, I convince you, through spoken word, or obvious growth, or maybe just out of curiosity.
You finally come to the mat.
The language is strange.
The openness is uncomfortable.
You want to run.
But, instead, you breathe.
Because you are told too, you take what might possibly be the first true breath you have taken in a very long time.
You may fight the breath.
You may embrace the breath.
Either way, something has changed.
You start into the work.
The truly grueling boot camp that is the asana.
And you sweat.
And you strain.
And you hear things that are supposed to encourage, guide you, and move you.
Maybe you want to punch the teacher. Hard.
This strange person who talks slightly off, too focused, too calm.
It gets harder, and it gets harder, and I am afraid, it only gets harder.
Maybe you thought it was hippies sitting around sh*tting unicorns and chanting to a f*cking elephant.
Maybe you thought it was all just crazy hard work.
You make it to the end of your first class, hopefully.
Suddenly you are floating off on a cloud.
You come back to a world that seems slightly different.
You aren’t sure why.
You admit that there is something to this.
Ten minutes later, you are back to you.
Maybe you come back for more, maybe you don’t,
But, if you do, I have some bad news for you.
You have many, many, many, many hours of sweat, pain, discouragement, self hate, limitations, boredom, restlessness. You get the picture. But you don’t.
You show up for the next few years, and as often as not, you don’t want to.
But you do.
Eventually, maybe, you finally start to get it.
Poses become more tangible and possible.
There are huge leaps forward and gentle falling back.
The strength and flexibility has finally come, and you are proud of you,
You have risen to the challenge, you have fought the good fight.
It finally all pays off!
You silly little fool.
You are just a beginner.
Then, the secret begins to unfold in small, fleeting glimpses.
The ah-ha moments start to happen a bit more often.
And then, hopefully, it finally begins to dawn on you.
All the pushing forward, and you realize, it was never about trying.
It was about letting go,
How do you let go?
I have no f*cking clue.
But it happens, and you do.
And not all at once, but hopefully, eventually, you finally realize.
Yoga really was all about, not the breath, but the stillness between those breaths.
That magic place where time stands still.
Where the world stands still,
All the rest never mattered for a minute.
Even those brief seconds, and maybe minutes, was where all the healing happened.
Where all the growth happened.
All you had to do all along was stop trying.
To just be still.
I wanted to tell you in the beginning,
But you would have never believed me.
Author: Anthony Kohne
Image: Holly Sharpe
Editor: Emily Bartran