The Bhagavad Gita defines yoga as, “the practice of tolerating the consequences of being yourself”. As soon as I read that phrase I adopted it as my definition of yoga, namely, as a practice which has come to both guide me and inform me of who I am and what I do. But what does tolerating the consequences of being yourself mean to me? It means being authentic or being true to myself, being honest with myself and accepting the consequences of that. Inherent in the phrase is the suggestion that one needs to know oneself in order to be authentic. But the funny thing with yoga is that I am learning something about myself every time I get on the mat and as often, when off, living my life. (Sometimes I feel what I learn is profound, while other times it’s just mundane bits and pieces that make sense to me). So, for me, being authentic is an evolving process. I start out thinking I know myself fairly well, and am then surprised and sometimes disheartened by the depth of knowing that happens on the mat when I am still and can listen, instead of when I am trying to get somewhere or be someone. Yoga reminds me to pay attention. It reminds me to be patient. It reminds me to be compassionate., and it reminds me it is an ongoing practice.
Tolerating the consequences of being myself also means truly accepting who I am and where I am in the moment, understanding that this moment is all that I have, is all that is. For me, it means that yoga is an active, alive and vibrant experience or entity or journey, forever shifting and changing. Kind of like the ocean or a dance. It means that I have to surrender to being myself, warts and all, as well as jewels and all. It means that no matter what I might want from a pose or practice, the pose or practice may well have something else to teach me. I am slowly learning to listen to this voice.
I love yoga. I love it when I feel great and I love it when I don’t. I love it when I can “master” an asana and even when I can’t, which I now understand as the constant. I love the walls that are there for me to take down. I love the sense of accomplishment I feel when I have tackled something hard and have found success. I love the feeling of quiet and stillness I experience some days and alternatively, the excitement and energy I experience on other days. I love the feeling of fellowship in the studio. I love what each teacher has to offer. Through yoga I am becoming the person I want to be. For this and for all it’s gifts, I am grateful.