Yoga is the set of tools and practices to realize your true nature, oftentimes referred to as the Self. The Self is the part of you that is not limited to your personality, your body, your mind or your experiences. It is the very thing that is experiencing everything else.
We live in a world of movement. In that movement we identify ourselves with every passing thing. We become the sadness, the excitement, the personality and job title… As the mind is constantly looking for happiness in every external thing, this leads us to never ending suffering since true peace cannot be achieved through external grasping of the mind. We think we will finally be happy when we get the latest brand of clothes. We lose our self worth when we gain weight. We get offended when someone doesn't like what we say. Why? Because we are convinced that those things define us at the deepest level, through moments of the day we define ourselves as those things.
We live in our minds, reacting to each thought and living a busy life in our head that never even happened. Forgetting about the awareness itself. We learn about everything around us and get lost in the movement of life without stoping for a moment and asking who we are. What is that constant “I” that remains even as “you” change, no longer becoming a wife, or a friend; as your body or personality changes, who is the one thinking? Feeling? Experiencing?
Since we identify ourselves with the body and the personality we get scared to experience sadness, pain, arguments and confrontations that might ruin our sense of what we think we are. In fact, we start to create games like “ The Sims” video games, or watch movies where we can experience and control the simple act of living with the security of not being hurt. How silly is it for us to watch the simplest TV shows of somebody else doing nothing special but living. Why do we do that? Why not just go and live? Why do we enjoy watching telenovelas yet we escape from the very real moments when they happen to us?
Buddha describes the self realization as the end of suffering. The realization of your true nature helps you to stay present and experience every moment of life without being fully identified with it. At the same time it is not that we stop living or enjoying, in fact we are able to be more clear and present in each experience. There is no longer a need to run away from sadness and pain, but on the contrary the realized person is able to stay present for every moment of life no longer taking it as personal attack but rather as a gratitude to experience each moment. Thus never really closing to the experience of life itself in any form.
Yoga is more like a lifestyle that will help you to change the perspective of your experience of living. It doesn't change the world for you. It helps to change your relationship to the world. Our Self is experienced in the stillness and yoga gives us the tools and practices to gain back control of our mind that oftentimes has a life of its own, no longer considering that you are in control. Through practice we have the capacity to feel the very essence that does not change, the very essence that is aware of the change. Those tools are not limited to the physical body and by just focusing on that, we lose the biggest treasure the practice can give us.
1.2“Yoga is the cessation of the movements in the mind.”
1.3 “Then the seer abides in his/her own true nature.”
1.4 “At other times the seer identifies with the fluctuation of the mind and forgets his/her true essence.” - Patanjali
Personal Note from Niya:
I wanted to write this in order to share what those practices were created for. It is totally great if all your practice is about is your flexibility, health and body. We are just going through a time where many don’t even know about the original purpose of yoga.