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Yoga gives more than we can repay. It’s the reason we continue our practice and make it a long term partner. Yoga creates space and invites us to search for our true selves. Yoga has our backs and has fixed our spines.
Yoga balances our perceptions and teaches us to look up at the horizon even when we resist and find it would be easier to look down, only to fall flat to the mark of our diminished vision. Yoga teaches us to move, be still, and live well.
Yoga levels our judgment to the healing ground of calm detachment, yet it fills us with courage to say and do the right thing. Yoga moves us to meet and greet worlds upon worlds and that’s why we study, practice, and push to find our limits, breathe deep to fully inherit its spiritual science, and release everything into the realm of OM.
Yoga gives plenty to all of us, but what do we give to yoga?
I give my pain to yoga
I give the pain I need to release and yoga keeps teaching me how to let it go. It's the pain I hold in my being. It’s a pain I hold for the world. Pain is the higher Self’s telegram to my soul: pay attention inside now, and yoga teaches me to do this.
I give my love for family and friends to yoga
I see them aching not just from the slings and arrows of misfortune, the lance of gossip or backbiting envy, but also the suffering that comes from disease, from stress, from lives as over-consumers, and from worry over material goods and money. Yoga is the noncommercial antidote to consumerism.
I give my illusions to yoga
Nearly everyone I know suffers from the illusion of want, but not from the hard-edged reality of deprivation. I live in a country where three meals a day are taken for granted, and as a result, I too suffer the illusion of plenty and the scandal of waste. But I give it to yoga because there is nowhere else I take this discontent.
I give my breath to yoga
It may be tension filled and thin, but I’ve learned to trust the deep inhale, the brief pause, and the full release which returns to me - as part of the perfect exchange - oxygen rich blood. This is the core of yoga’s economy; a healing exchange for the taking. After my encounter with yoga, my blood is fired by pranayama, renewed, and shimmering with the energy of time. I rest secure in this endless exchange.
I give my worries to yoga
I give my failings and shortcomings as a human being. I marvel that whenever I do yoga, my worries go away. Worries are created in my mind, but they are felt in my body. My asana melts these mountainous worries into molehills and teaches me to release into the stillness of corpse pose. Effortless and receptive, I gratefully inherit the medicine founded on rest and recovery. I give my burdens to yoga, and it always delivers peace. The only limiting factor to handling my worries is my level of giving to and receiving from yoga.
I give my challenge of living in a flawed world to yoga
Because my experience is rooted here, my existence is also flawed. I’m subject to breathing fumes from diesel fuel into my lungs as I ride my motorcycle behind a large truck spewing thick clouds of dark smoke into the air. I’m injured by chemicals I ingest when I eat poisoned food or drink polluted water. Sometimes I’m the target of misdirected aggression or a magnet for stress. The pain of living in a material world finds me, and it’s inevitable that my cellular chemistry registers these environmental injuries. In a post-Industrial, technological world, I cannot escape the ill effects of this all-encompassing brokenness.
I give my asana to yoga
Asana is evidence of yogic truth, and the yogi’s lived expression - through any of the eight limbs – is the extent to which the scientific and medicinal healing of yoga adheres to an individual life. Yoga colors my expression, forms my being, and expresses its energy toward soul care. My asana, shaped by the curriculum of sages, then becomes individual and universal at the same moment.
I give my heart to yoga
I’ve always thought of my yoga as a breath-centric discipline, but perhaps it’s heart-centric, for it has moved my heart which is my life’s emotive. My heart has always been strong, but in greater awareness I’ve learned it has not always been gentle. My strong heart made me a good person, but not always kind. My heart taught me about other people and how to be responsible, but I’ve not always been enjoyable. My heart has allowed me to love, but I’ve not always been present. I’ve given my heart to yoga and it has revealed these truths. I know that if I do not own this personal truth it becomes a denial of truth. And what is the gift of heart? No less authority than Eupipides, in the 4th Century BC wrote, “Let my heart be wise. It is the gods’ best gift.”
I give my egocentrism to yoga
And yoga does its work to undo the Gordian knot of self-centeredness. When my ego is loosened, yoga can get through to heal me. This is the gift of yoga that bathes my being and caresses my pain with the cleansing, ancient wisdom-science of union.
* * *
I give and yoga performs a soul dialysis on me: purifying toxicity, re-routing negativity, renewing body, trimming ego, patching flaws, melting worry, taking pain, renewing my heart and recasting my breath. Yet even with this soul medicine, I need practice so that yoga can teach me why I’m here and what I need.
When I go to yoga, paraphrasing Rumi, I am like a man in a tavern with many wines, but I have no glass. I keep going back to yoga where I become a reed dipping into that well of fermented wisdom. Drop by drop, I will drink from that reed until yoga turns me into wine.
When I’m done, others will come afterwards and yoga will continue marching in the steps of a grateful humanity: warriors and heroes, young and old, the parade of queens and kings, scapegoats, sages, and the full panorama of humanity in all its colors, races, identities. It is the many bound as one - in union - giving what they can even as they are cleansed and restored.
Rūmī, G. A., & Barks, C. (1995). The essential Rumi: new expanded edition. New York: Harper Collins. Quotation from, "Who Says Words With My Mouth?"