The term “yoga” is Sanskrit. It’s been translated as “to add,” “to unite,” “to join,” “to connect.” From the root word yuj, it has been figuratively connected to the “harnessing of horses,” or “to put something to use.”
WTF is Yoga? As a yogi, socially engaged artist, and psychotherapy student, I’m constantly redefining what yoga means, letting that definition blossom. Letting it die. And then allowing it to be reborn again.
Classical Yoga’s ground, as defined in the Yoga Sutras of Patañjali, is based on ethical restraints and abstentions, which I began studying as a way to gain discipline. These methods outlined an eight-limbed path (asht-anga). However, it dawned on me that this frame was constructed during a historical period, when discipline meant adherence to an ethical model from an outside source. Just to put things into perspective, during the time classical yoga was developed, women were not allowed to practice yoga or even allowed to enter sacred yogic temples. This is the same school of yoga which was brought to the west.
With women now being the primary practitioners and teachers of yoga, feminine energy can’t help but affect how the practice has evolved—especially over the last twenty years. One of my deepest goals is to transmute the idea of yoga itself, and for it to be recognized (“re-cognized”) as Art. Bringing back the play, creation, and power through practice is my deepest intention.
How does someone do this? āsanas (“poses” or “seats”) are landing points that change with each breath. The poses give us the deep opportunity to discover the textures of our mind-body. I often see them as the cave of our psychic themes, a dwelling place to explore.
Whatever you place your attention on, may it serve you well and deeply enough to feel it in your bones, swell in your organs, and pulse through your blood. May you join the shadow of your mind with the flame of your heart. May this precious planet and its beings benefit from the practice.