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How Can I Practice Yoga If I’m Not Doing Asana?

Posted by on Oct 3, 2011

In a recent conversation with a friend I realized that many people have an idea about yoga being a set of postures, still, instead of an integrated practice of the conditioning of the mind, body and soul. No matter how many times we are reminded, it seems we continue to view yoga as a bunch of pretzel poses instead of a whole tool box full of aids to increase our feelings of peace, quiet and joy. Why do we persist in thinking that we have to stand on our heads or do an intense back bend to find joy when practicing jnana yoga (the yoga of the intellect) or bhakati yoga (the yoga of mantra and song, fostering love and devotion) or kundalini yoga (the practice of bringing dormant shakti energy to rise to higher spiritual centers) can be just as effective as an hour-long, intensely physical asana practice?

The truth is that yoga is approachable no matter what is happening in our lives – everything is yoga. You can sit in your car for five minutes before going into work or visiting a friend, and just concentrate on bathing everyone inside the building with peace and light. You can read a quick verse in the Bhagavad Gita or the Yoga Sutras, or say a mantra a few times to help lift your energetic frequency.  You can practice a small act of kindness like paying for someone’s coffee or putting a few extra coins in someone meter that is about to expire without any intention of reward or acknowledgment as a form of karma yoga. Yoga is not just a class you go to, although I enjoy a great session with an inspired teacher just as much as the next person, but we have lost our understanding of what true practice is because we have this great need to compartmentalize every aspect of our existence.

This tendency speaks volumes to our own disassociation from the Divine in every day life. We not only don’t stop and smell the roses, but we tend to only give the Divine a small, compartmentalized, stifled area to express itself in our lives, when it is begging, on hands and knees, to fill up every nook and cranny, if only we would let it. Yoga is not a sometimes-practice when we can fit it in; it is an unfolding of consciousness such that we practice it more in every single moment of our days. It permeates everything eventually until there is no separation between the mundane and the Divine. The mundane is, in fact, swallowed into the Divine indivisibly, immutably expressing itself as the wholeness we are. That is yoga.

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