Yes, in fact, what really is yoga?
An infinite number of physical postures that we perform one after the other?
A weird hippy practice that is suppose to relax us?
A physical stretching sport designed to make us become a pretzel?
A way to take cool pictures for our insta-facebook life?
Merely a little tiny bit of all that.
First things first, the word yoga can be translated from Sanskrit to the verb to yoke, in the sense of : to create one, to combine, to fuse the body, the mind and the soul. Yoga as we, occidental people know it, derives from an ancient philosophy from India. It firstly appeared thousands of years ago in sacred texts including rituals, mantras and songs aiming to enlighten oneself. It evolved into a more structured practice with the writings of Patanjali, the father of yoga, covering many aspects such as physical health, meditation, breathing and rules to live by. At this time, the physical part of it, the asanas (the postures), were essentially a way for the yogis to float into a deeper meditation state and, eventually, to become enlighten.
In very summarized words, yoga is a way of living involving a highly spiritual component, a physical practice, meditation and breathing exercises, and rules of life. Unfortunately, with its westernization, yoga had become so much less about living in a spiritual, harmonious way, and is much more focused on who does the craziest-most-dangerous pose and who got more abs and likes. By flying yoga from Orient to Occident, it lost many feathers on the way. I think it is a too sad that many practitioners these years completely skip the sacred and spiritual side of it, reducing it to a simple fitness activity.
Don’t think here that I see myself as better than anyone ; I totally embarked on the yoga journey thinking (almost...) only about lean muscles and extreme flexibility. Though, the more my interest for yoga grew, the more I wanted (and still want!) to learn about it, and the more I learned (and still learns!) about it, the deeper it anchors into my life. This is precisely what my mission as a yoga teacher (and actually just yoga lover) is ; demystifying it to make it more accessible to all, while preserving the much-more-than-physical aspect of it.
So, what is yoga... to me?
It is a practice and way of life that make me nurture, respect, listen to and love my body.
It is a practice and way of life that calm, bring clarity to, regenerate and relieve my mind.
It is a practice and way of life that soothe, elevate and arise consciousness into my soul.
It is a practice and way of life that yoke my body, my mind and my soul, creating balance and alignment within me.
And it's fun! And it makes people happy!
Sounds amazing, right?
Who's ready to embark on that journey with me??!