For years I, like most others I know, have associated yoga with doing impressive yoga poses. But every time I strive for this goal, I get hurt.
This is because, as a fellow health professional and I were recently discussing, yoga in the Western world focuses on the physical aspects of yoga while leaving out much of the spiritual-mental-emotional part, which is actually the key!
Yoginis don’t just wake up one day and do crazy contortions. This has come from years of practice; as well as years of working on their breath and mental state while performing such poses. On focusing, on being present.
Instead of associating the word yoga with impressive, cool poses, I like to think of it as meeting myself where I am—going only as far as I feel comfortable in a pose, maintaining connection to my breath, and focusing on self-acceptance and non-judgment. And through that I am more likely to achieve the true meaning of yoga, which is yoke—uniting one’s individual spirit with the universal spirit of G-d.
We each have a piece of the Divine within us—our soul. Yoga, done as originally intended, connects us to our soul, as well as to G-d.