Y is for Yoga
Stemming from the Sanskrit verb yuj, or “to yoke,” yoga is a series of physical, philosophical, and spiritual practices designed to integrate all aspects of human consciousness. That which conventional Western culture understands to be “yoga” is, in fact, a highly-watered down version of this multifaceted and ancient tradition. While the poses, or asanas, form the center point of Westernized yoga, in the Indian spiritual/philosophical tradition these movements were only one limb of a complex practice, and used as a means to prepare the body for the stillness of meditation by cultivating presence and breath control (pranayama). Nonetheless, our highly-physicalized rendition can still be a vehicle for mental focus and more integrated experience. As an instructor once told me, the point of yoga is to guide one’s body, breath, and mind to all move in the same direction. When we’re in that elusive state of unity, experiences become more heightened, and we become more engaged within them–and perhaps, more consciously aware of our role in creating and sustaining them.
(Author’s Note: Due to time constraints, this is only scratching the surface. See X is for X-Press. Maybe I’ll develop it more for the collective version…)