This is a straight from the hips offering for those who love yoga, who want to know more, and who sense that it is a path of endless discovery. Because it is.
This A to Z of Yoga is hardly definitive. It is an invitation. I hope you will be delighted and inspired to dive deeper into your own journey of yoga as a fearless adventurer, a pioneer into the frontier of the incredibly unique and unfolding experience that is you.
B is for Body, but…
But what? It’s kind of obvious in our body-conscious society that yoga is about the body, right. It’s now one of the most popular forms of exercise in the West. It’s a great way to build strength, flexibility and vitality, which also improves our mental and emotional wellbeing; and even better, it has the extra perks of ‘spiritual fitness’.
But… it runs so much deeper than that. The body really is the vehicle for awakening. This is the radical teaching of Tantra, that emerged in India only around the 5th century (remember that ‘classical’ yoga was birthed from around 500-200BC).
Departing from the dual split between matter and spirit that was the hallmark of the ancient Vedic traditions, Tantra offered a radical acknowledgement of the body, this human form, as an aspect or an expression of the divine. In Tantra, there is no separation between matter and spirit, mundane or divine. So this human body – that is both clumsy and agile, that feels aches and ecstasy, that we worship when it is slim and toned and curse when it is overweight or misshapen – is the divine form we have for experiencing and discovering life, and for awakening into all that we can possibly be.
In the words of Eckhart Tolle, “You are the universe, expressing itself as a human for a little while.”
To fully awaken into this realization starts right here, in your human form, in your body. The body is the vehicle for awakening.
This is what my pioneering teachers Tara Judelle and Scott Lyons see as the underlying principle of a genuine modern yoga practice focused on awakening (check out Embodied Flow Yoga).
It is an invitation to become ‘somanauts’ – explorers into the inner world of our very own body-mind, deep into our own experience. To not only move the outer form of the body, but to really feel and sense inside the body with the fullness of our awareness, to discover its sensations and bring alive the consciousness of our tissues, our organs, our bones, our very cells.
Why? To discover life, to discover self, to understand and experience more of this awe-inspiring reality, to become awake, literally, in all the cells and fibres of our being.
Fortunately for us, we not only have the ancient and evolving tools of yoga, but also the incredible discoveries of science (see the video link below, for example), and new forms of movement and somatic exploration such as Body Mind Centering to add to our toolbox of practices of awakening – our practice of Yoga.
Hungry for more and ready to be awed?
- Watch this incredible video – the inner life of the cell (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wJyUtbn0O5Y);
- find out more about Embodied FlowTM at tarajudelle.com;
- or pick up a copy of Linda Hartley’s The Wisdom of the Body Moving.
And, here are a few more B-words to add to your yoga lexicon. Let these words take you down the rabbit hole of your own research, exploration, and contemplation.
B is for: breath, bhakti, Body Mind Centering (BMC), bandha, Bhagavad Gita, buddhi.