Yuj (sanskrit): To join, yoke, unite.
Entire books and hours of seminars expound on the meaning of yoga. Some see it simply as a physical practice and a form of fitness. Others take it to the far opposite and view yoga as a largely meditative practice of the mind. There are groups who lump it into religion, or at least a system of belief and practice. Any of these definitions can work for particular groups, depending on what you’re looking for it to accomplish. At Woven Yoga, none of these preceding definitions accurately fit the teachings we offer. At it’s heart, yoga is union.
As we practice it at our studio, yoga is the bringing together of body and mind, breath and movement. And because the body resides in the soul, a regular practice will begin to change the way we think and what we believe about ourselves, others, and the world around us. As my teacher says, as the body, so the soul.
So you may find that by coming to class and noticing the breath, perhaps expanding inhales deeper into your belly, that you’re able to take a big breath before other life circumstances. As you practice folding and lengthening certain muscle groups, you could see that you’re able to let go of some of the rigidity that used to confine the way you lived. And as you bear your body weight, this newfound strength could serve you well mentally.
Sir Ken Robinson says in his popular TED talk that we now live and act as if we’re simply “floating heads”, keeping education – and I will add work life, family life, and civic life – all in our heads. While our brains are powerful and important for the flourishing of human life, our bodies, our emotions, and our sense of will also contribute to the human experience. Because the mind gets so much of our attention, giving space in the day or week to give awareness to the body and the breath helps bring a person into a more unified state, aware of all the components of life.
A yoga practice is meant to bring freedom, not burden. One of the most famous of gurus (and my personal favorite) spoke of his own teachings and practices as he shared it with others, saying, “my yoke (yuj) is easy and my burden is light.” While keeping us grounded, the way we integrate our lives should bring lightness, to ourselves and others.
Of course, a quick googling will give you thousands of other answers, as yoga has over 5,000 years of history, beginning long before someone could have a YouTube channel to teach it.
Yoga as an ancient practice, specifically in the ashtanga (“eight limbs”) lineage, from which vinyasa (“to place in a particular way”) yoga emerged – and which Woven teaches – involves more than an hour class, once a week. It includes practices of the breath and elements of meditation, along with aligning your personal and social life with ways of living that keeps you in healthy accord with others and the world around you. You may find that some of these other limbs of yoga work their way into your studio practice and the teachings at Woven Yoga.