What is yoga?
When people are asked "what is yoga?", the most usual answers to that are union, balance, stillness, peace of mind. We have learned through the years to have goals. Our mind is wired to always try and manifest goals. On top of that, the structure of the societies we live in are goal-oriented and we encounter the pressure to achieve goals early on: get good grades at school, learn a foreign language, defeat the other team at sports, get a university degree, get a good job, get a raise, get a better position, another raise, get a car, another position. It never stops. So we come into yoga and this keeps going: achieve this pose, incorporate the breath, achieve that pose, empty your mind, achieve another pose. And the list goes on. And we hear in class the teacher saying "empty your mind". Or "don’t worry about the asana". Or "don’t set goals in the practice".
And here comes one of the beautiful oxymorons of the practice: isn’t trying not to set goals, another goal?
We are used to thinking in opposites. We don’t want the mind to be chatty, so the opposite must be a quiet mind. We are interpreting yoga and meditation through a ‘thought-meter’, if the reading is high then we are bad at it, if the reading is low then we are doing well. But yoga suggests something even more. Stillness comes not when the mind is the opposite of noisy. Stillness is a completely new state. The moment you try to understand what stillness is, it slips away. We are so attached to interpreting the world through our thoughts, that any other way to connect seems impossible. But the practice is powerful. The practice works weather we want it or not! In the practice we glimpse into this new way of connection. We take a peek into this ‘union’ which is nothing more than simply bypassing the mind. Taking us away from our intellectual state and into our Cosmic state. There is a world without our brain having to understand everything. There is a world where things don’t have to make sense, where things just Are.
Finding that world is Yoga. And that world is beautiful.