What is Yoga?

My young son crawled under me this morning as I moved in cat/cow pose. He tugged on my sleeve, “mama.” I paused and we sat down together.

He said, “Mom, what is yoga?”

I said, “Yoga is what brings you back to the truth of love inside and out”.

He smiled, sat at the end of my mat and we joined our hands together, facing one another. We moved around a bit, keeping our hands together.

I said, “Do you think we can feel love sitting and moving?”

“Yes Mom, it is here all the time. No matter what we are doing.”

Yoga is a sanskrit word that means “union” or to yoke. In the yogic tradition, we aspire to yoke ourselves to a higher calling or expression that is here to live through our actions, thoughts, and behavior. And in so doing, make the world a better place.

One of the greatest gifts of our humanity lies in our ability to recognize there are forces greater than this small being called me or us. And that each one of us is a manifestation of this larger force, and each are called to live in the direct expression of that larger force. While some misuse this force, most of us want the same things: we want to love and be loved.

Different traditions call this larger force different things but in effect, it all comes down to love. That pure state we see in a newborn, an animal’s total trust in you, the moments after a rainstorm when the air is fresh and clean, the deep connection when entwined around your love, those moments when you experience a kindness or your own simple act brings about a type of softness in the person before you…all these experiences and more is love moving through you.

In practicing yoga, which is really an intention based practice of breath and movement, we are releasing tension in the body to prepare oneself for meditation and prayer. We learn to witness without judgement and in so doing prepare ourselves for that something larger which has never left us in the first place. Regardless of your religion and value system, yoga is the practice of bringing love alive within your body so that you may practice your value system in physical alignment with your heart.

My son and I concluded our physical practice with a song and a little dance. I told him it was time for me to sit quietly for awhile. He hugged me and ran off. As I settled into a sitting pose to pray,I heard a little voice whisper with the clatter of Legos, “I love you. I love you. I love you.”.