"How did you get to be so spiritual without yoga?"
What a question, isn't it? When one of my clients asked me 'How did you get to be so spiritual without yoga', I stood there speechless for a moment. Then, a light bulb went off in my head as epiphany emerged on still deeply embedded perceptions of what it means to be 'a spiritual person'.
Allow me to preface with a caveat: I AM NOT discrediting yoga in this article. Simply sharing my heartfelt ponderings to offer a different perspective, not to put anyone on the defensive. So please read it with an open mind.
As many of you know, Yoga, originated in India, some five thousand years ago; its Sanskrit meaning is “union with Spirit”, in other words connecting the material world with the world of the spirit.
Yoga’s popularity in the Western world has been on a rise and the surge of yoga practice has been unprecedented. So many different styles from which to choose, literally something for everyone. No one can argue countless and well documented therapeutical benefits of consistent yoga practice. So yes, the western world has been given an incredible gift of yoga practice; a system that offers different meditation and breathing techniques and own set of moral rules to live by. But for most people yoga is equated with series of physical exercises aka poses done to enhance flexibility or general fitness; certainly a great way to add physical activity to daily regimen.
It’s also worth mentioning, a lot of today's yoga has been altered from its original premise; it’s turned into something different, unrecognizable perhaps, fueled by the marketing machine that spread it like a wildfire. Perhaps someone else would refer to these changes as yoga being modernized or evolving? Of course, a valid perspective.
However, that's not the main premise of this post. I’d like to address still commonly held belief amongst many:
If you do yoga, you’ll be spiritual.
It is so ubiquitous!
It seems, many equate yoga practice and being spiritual as one and the same. As if one were to get spiritual and enlightened through osmosis, simply by going to yoga class. The practice of yoga is not the only route to living a spiritual existence. There are so many paths and truths, no one can claim to be the sole holder of The truth. The most important point to keep in mind: main premise behind yoga practice is union of body, mind and spirit; it’s the journeying within to integrate all aspects of oneself, the divine and the human. Yet, the intention of journeying within to integrate all aspects is set by an individual person. However, what tools are chosen to accomplish the task is very personal. It does not have to be through doing asanas.
My own experience has been quite different. As much as I appreciate yoga, practiced it but not religiously, I didn't feel the pull towards it. I also realized no specific version of yoga was needed for me to connect with Source - the heart. It’s very much an internal process, irrespective of what kind of tools one chooses to practice integration of body, mind and spirit, if any. For a long time, I struggled with bridging my very physical way of being with a newly emerging need for spirituality. I am a trainer professionally and a lifter, which I absolutely love. Yes, love tossing some heavy weights around at the gym. As my spiritual path progressed, the passion for strength training only intensified, which is somewhat bizarre. Many people seem to reach for yoga mat when they awaken to own divinity, while I was pulled towards the iron game. Go figure!
There is still a lot of dogmatic and rigid views on what it means to be on a spiritual path. Yet, it is such an individual and personal journey; an internal alchemical process fueled by deepest heart's desire to connect to Source and integrate all of you. It’s an answering Soul’s call to come back to inner knowingness of its divinity within human form.
To sum it up, neither does yoga make one spiritual, nor has a trademark on spirituality itself, no matter how the marketing machine has spun it for us. Plain and simple yoga is a tool. And there are many. While consistent yoga practice may serve very well for many individuals, it will not resonate for all.
I really wanted to challenge this old concept because many still hold this archaic perception of what spirituality is supposedly all about. It is what YOU make it to be. Not what outside world has told you. Seek what your inner world is telling you. So much is changing right now. Everything is being rewired. New paths are being created. So go ahead and create your own, one with alignment and integrity of your own Soul blueprint. Simply, use those tools to integrate divine and human that speak to your heart.