Yoga Means With

Whether you like to make new years resolutions or not…
Whether you embrace holiday traditions or enjoy starting new ones…
Even whether you think about politics and current affairs or stay away from it all…

Yoga means “with”.

At one point or another you may have learned that yoga is a Sanskrit word that is translated to mean “union“. That’s right. That means when you say you’re going to yoga, you are saying, “Honey, could you keep an eye on the kids? I’m off to union class.

I must admit, the word “union” is a little strange. I wouldn’t even use that word in English to describe my practice, who would? It’s just not natural. There are some interesting philosophical reasons why yoga was translated into English that way, but what is much more important than philosophy–is your actual experience.

Lost in translation. Recently, I discovered the word Hygge. It’s Danish for something that English simply does not have a word for. The closest we can come to describing Hygge is “coziness”. Hygge is something the Danes do/have/or feel that helps them enjoy the shorter, colder days of Winter. It can be seen as the art of Winter Happiness, and it’s just not part of our language. It describes a feeling.

In the same way, what does yoga feel like?

If you try to find a word that comes closest to describing yoga in English, what would it be? I wouldn’t say, “union”, but similar to this philosophical translation, I would say “to be with”. Yoga happens when you are really with yourself, not divided against yourself. Yoga is, when you are working “with your body”, not on your body. Yoga is when we are with others, not succumbing to the comparing or judging aspect of the mind. When we feel this sense of “with-ness”, there is a peace that floods our experience.

Intuitively, if we witness someone being hard on their body, the teacher, or the others during a practice, we have a feeling it is a little “unyogic”.  Somehow, mysteriously, we do not need to be taught this to sort of know it. We may not always able to accomplish this– ie. to be with it all, moment by moment–to keep coming back to kindness and  compassion for the body, mind, and the world–but that is why it is called a practice! It is a natural intention when we are truly interested in the truth of yoga.

So, whether you set resolutions and intentions or not…
whether you like to keep up to date with current affairs or not…
whether you like to be physical or intellectual or anything really…
…the question is, am I being hard on myself?

Almost anything we do can come from either one or the other direction.
Knowing this–moment by moment– softening into yourself and showing yourself kindness and understanding,

this is yoga.


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