“Yoga is everlasting, primal, revealing, the archetypal light fueled by love” – The Bhagavad Gita
There is a pure sacredness in reconnecting to our bodies through yoga. Our bodies are a temporary home, housing both soul and spirit as a divine source of life's energy. On a daily basis, I make it a point to reconnect with myself through spiritual means. I reconnect with my soul through my morning meditation. Rising in synergy with the sun creates a common bond between myself and the universal flow. To reconnect with my spirit, yoga readily follows meditation. I find yoga to be a healing, strengthening, and an energizing way to start the morning. Yoga is a sacred practice encompassing mind, body, and soul, all parts stemming from its ancient Vedic knowledge. In my yoga practice, I take this sacredness entering into my routine. I constantly remind myself to celebrate my bodies movement and unique abilities. Ultimately, this forges gratitude for my bodies’ health and its current wellbeing. Honoring my body is truly honoring my unique, feminine energy. There is no greater connection than connecting to the divine through yoga's principles.
Throughout my own observance, I find it personally challenging to find sacredness in a class setting. The same sacredness found on my mat is seemingly absent within a studio atmosphere. I am a "sponge" to the surrounding energy in the class. I find (most) students there for the purpose of increased weight loss, pushing themselves into exhaustion to burn calories in these heightened temperatures. I eavesdrop the chatter when class ends, mostly consisting of the increased anticipation of eating food upon class completion. I silently ponder, while subtly rolling my eyes at bedazzled “OM” plastered on the wall, “Where is the sacredness? Why is the true purpose of yoga always absent? Why am I comparing my body to others as I move…?”
The root of this inner beckoning lies within the image of modern day yoga:
Yoga is fitness marketer’s dream for customer retention. The fitness industry has capitalized off the popularity of yoga ranging across the United States. It’s far from taboo to find yoga supplies in a storefront display. I understand the benefit from a business aiming to drive consumer profit, but it continuously sparks my spiritual uneasiness. Marring a sacred practice and making it a cliché branding tool removes the roots grown from its original integrity.
In conjunction with my introduction, the true purpose of yoga is to connect with oneself and to the divine. When we deeply connect with ourselves, we enhance the inner connection to everything around us. Having a divine “knowing” everything alive on earth is the Infinite’s reflection is compelling. One of my favorite quotes from the Bhagavad Gita is illustrated as Lord Krishna is explaining the concept of yoga to his student, Arjuna;
“Yoga is selfless, cleansing, freeing, balancing, inspiring, and joyfully performed: a vision in which one experiences peaceful interconnectedness with all life around them”
Yoga is introduced here as a prerequisite to cultivating calmness and stillness. The interconnectedness with life is the consecrated connection to everything living. Once you recognize God within yourself, you are a witness to God in everything. Thus, making everything living a house for its own sacred space.
Krishna further emphasized to Arjuna one cannot attain the title of “Yogi” if they hold onto extremities in sleeping and eating. Our daily life requires finding balance. Gravitating towards extremities (in any regard) creates confusion and inner imbalance. Balance, in itself, is another form of divine connection. A healthy, balanced mind is the eyesight for spotting the sacredness in our surroundings.
In these terms, the center of everything surrounding balance is love. Love always dismisses extremes and welcomes empathy. Choosing love is choosing to see God in everyone, and everything. In the quotes below, Krishna highlights to Arjuna the effects of yoga and connecting to him (side-note: both of these found in different chapters):
“Yoga is a heightened sensitivity and awareness of all life around us and within us, and an outpour of love in reciprocation with life’s wonder and beauty.”
“Yoga is our intimate connection with the whole universe, with eternal realms even beyond the manifested universe, and with our own being’s endless capacity to love.”
For a modern day Yogi, this creates confusion. Not everyone in the yoga world practices Hinduism/Vedic knowledge, so a person could feel dejected if they can’t connect to the perception of Krishna. In retrospect, it’s up to the individual to define who “Krishna” is in their life. The definition takes different forms: Krishna is God, the Universe, and Source Energy. Krishna can even be a metaphor for the connection to the self. Krishna can be the inner healing force towards a recovery journey. Krishna can be forgiveness when overcoming tribulations. When you connect to yourself, and to a higher source, you have uncovered your living definition of “Krishna.”
Who is your “Krishna” and God connection?
I truly understand not everybody goes to yoga for weight loss. I’m simply highlighting the trend of today’s status quo. Yes, yoga is a wonderful and healing exercise. Yes, it’s wonderful to burn calories through yoga (if needed.) This piece is not intended to be malicious; it’s reiterating the awareness around yoga’s truths. When taking the fitness out of yoga, and reconnecting with its true meaning, the connection becomes easier.
To conclude, my hope is, even in the midst of a yoga class, you find your “Krishna” in yoga’s true purpose. Start by setting out an intention when you begin the practice, and make a connection with something higher than yourself. I would recommend reading about yoga’s roots in the Bhagavad Gita to gain sacred understanding. All these profound quotes and text will help you gain the knowledge needed to start the true Yogi path – no $70 yoga pants required.
I’ll leave you with this final Gita quote to ignite a mood of endearment;
"Yoga is a pure, determined force that moves us toward the mysterious and secret, and connects us with the wonderfulness of existence, of being, and of all life itself."