Earlier today, one of the football dads asked what the purpose of yoga was. Contemplating my response, I thought about how, in addiction to it being different is for each person, yoga is different for me from one day to the next. Some days I arrive to class with the intention to sweat and detoxify both chemical and emotional toxins. Other days I attend class to enjoy the benefits of a deeper stretch, total body strengthening, or simply to find a sense of balance that often gets lost during the weekend. No matter the reason driving me there, I always come away with far more than I bargained for. And it’s always good.
Today’s yoga workshop definitely fell into the more than I bargained for category. To be perfectly honest, I signed up so long ago that I forgot the details of what exactly I’d signed up for. Having no expectations meant I was sure to not be disappointed.
The teacher, facilitator, practitioner, or guru or sorts began the class asking a question similar to Football Dad’s. Acknowledging that yoga is more than a physical practice, he gleaned from the yogis some other definitions of yoga. Words came forth suggesting that yoga might be one of a spiritual nature. He then asked what the difference was… between spiritual and religious practice. No rules, no dogma (just downward dog) was one yogis response. The teacher ran with it.
He went on to say that if we only wanted “stretchy muscles” that there were many other options which would be far easier — like muscle relaxants for example. He talked about life being short and how the practice of strengthening and stretching our body and our minds, as well as letting go of tension, pain, and anger on the mat was only the starting point of the practice. In much the same was as my priest reminds the parishioners to go in peace, today’s instructor reminded us to let our work continue to flow off the mat as well.