At TYC, we believe very strongly that we should practice yoga fully so that we can grow spiritually, emotionally, intellectually, and physically.
We know that yoga has its origins in India. Yet if an Indian observes yoga āsanas (postures) in a typical class in America, and we ask what is going on, the response will be “physical exercise” rather than “yoga.” In the West, the term “yoga” has often been limited to just a physical practice, which is clearly a wonderful form of exercise with many benefits, but there is much more to yoga than physical practice.
According to the Yoga Sutras, the classical textbook on the subject, yoga is the means by which we connect with our deepest and fullest nature. The text speaks about how, by using specific inner and outer practices, we can learn to develop capabilities that we did not realize were possible. By deepening this connection, we can improve all areas of life.
So what are some of the specific practices that we practice at TYC that will allow us to deepen our practice of yoga?
Āsana: by performing specific poses and movements with careful alignment and awareness of our breath, we are able to bring strength and flexibility to our bodies, heart, and mind. At TYC, we are inspired and challenged by thought-provoking ideas that will allow us to practice what we learn “on the mat, off the mat” in our daily lives. Moreover, our āsana practice helps to prepare us to connect more deeply with
our awareness within.
Svādhyāya (study): yoga philosophy encourages us to study ourselves, study texts written by advanced yoga practitioners, and study others and the world around us. By expanding our awareness within and without, we learn to live and enjoy life more fully. We don’t check out from life in order to “peace out.” Rather, we use the tools of yoga to enhance all aspects of life.
Prānāyāma: by breathing in specific patterns and allowing our awareness to rest single-pointedly in the process, we become connected to our deepest self, preparing our mind for meditation.
Kirtan: by the chanting of time-tested sacred sounds, we experience deep peace and joy within and experience our connection with others who are experiencing the same feelings and connection. Kirtan is a beautiful way to experience an introduction to what meditation can provide.
Meditation: by means of allowing a simple sound to become more refined in our awareness (using the natural tendency of the mind), we connect to the very source of thought. This is not merely blank space but energizing expansion and bliss. Because the mind and body are intimately connected, this restful mental state results in deep physical and emotional rest.
These techniques allow our minds and bodies to become transformed by means of purification – letting go of stress, anxiety, and traumas from the past. Through purification, we are able to gradually let go of what limits us, improving our nervous system so that we can make use of the 90 to 95% of our mental and emotional capacity that has been dormant and/or restricted by subconscious limiting thoughts and stress.
So this is a preliminary definition of yoga. But to really understand what yoga means, we need to experience it deeply! That is our intention at TYC, to help us do just that!