According to Yoga Journal, the word yoga comes from the Sanskrit word yuj, meaning to yoke or bind. It is often interpreted as union. In a yoga practice, practitioners follow a discipline that helps them unite the mental, physical and metaphysical.
While this union is at the root of a complex practice, the meaning of each yogi’s experience is personal and unique. Yoga Journal recently published an article entitled Inspiration Flipbook: 21 Yoga Photos To Get You On Your Mat. It features 21 inspiring photographs from famed yoga photographer Robert Sturman and gives us insight into what yoga means to each of the practitioners featured. Now we - Noli Yoga - want to know what yoga means to you. We hope you’ll share your experience in the comments below.
To kick things off, below is how I arrived at my meaning of yoga.
I came to yoga out of pure desperation. I was a first time, stay at home mom who, while madly in love with my baby girl, was at a low point in my life. I was uninspired, lonely and my self-esteem had plummeted. I looked back at my life and was unable to see the value I had brought to this world. I felt I lacked depth. When I tried to search for who I was, apart from “mom”, I couldn’t answer the question. I was afraid. Afraid for my daughter, that I was not good enough.
All I knew about yoga was that there would be a lot of stretching. I was intimidated by the idea of interacting with a bunch of happy, fit people saying “Namaste” to each other. I went. Desperation sometimes has a way of making people do crazy things. I showed up to that first yoga class, and I stayed. Six years later, I am still here – still practicing, still learning, still becoming the best version of myself.
Very quickly, yoga became an essential part of my life. It was where I could confront hardship, self-esteem issues, honesty, compassion, and responsibility. As I practiced more and more, my body grew stronger. So did my mind. I engaged my muscles while working through my asana practice and found myself more engaged off the mat. My relationships blossomed, my focus grew, I sought answers to questions – my entire worldview began to morph. I thought about things differently as I became empowered to change my life and positively impact the lives of those around me. In the process of my yogic revolution, I became a better mother, wife, friend and student.
Sometimes it was hard to roll out my mat, but I did. I learned to be disciplined and realized that the measure of my practice did not exist in the hour and a half practices, or in quiet rooms. The measure of my practice was my continue dedication. Even if it involved a one-year-old crawling all over me while I moved. Or eventually, two children screeching for my attention.
To me, yoga is my compass. It guides me through the obstacles that come my way. I continue to grow and open and discover more love and compassion than I thought possible. Yoga is my companion on a path with lots of rocks and twisted roots. Yoga is a friend that encourages me to choose the path less traveled so that I may experience tremendous growth.
Now it’s your turn - what does yoga mean to you?