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  • Writer's pictureSusan Hu

What is yoga?

Updated: May 2, 2021

Photo by Minimichi Photography

It's been a while since I wrote anything. Just feeling inspired to type up some random thoughts here, hoping to invoke some philosophical discussion.

What is yoga?

First of all, let me just start by saying, I don't think I'm qualified to answer this question. Because any answer I can give will be my experience, and inevitably, an incomplete answer. But as I dive deeper into the teaching of yoga, more and more understanding and realizations come along the way. I start to see why people say this is a journey. And if my experience can inspire someone to think and meditate on what yoga is to them, perhaps it's worth a try to share it.

Yoga to me, these days, it's a lifestyle. It's a philosophy. It's a way of living and dying.

Yoga as one of the six darshans of the Vedic philosophy teaches us how the universe works and how we can live in a way that helps us to purify the layers that cover us and recognize who we truly are.

Photo by Minimichi Photography

When I first started yoga, I thought it was an exercise that keeps me healthy physically. Then as I got into the practice a little more, I thought yoga was a way to quiet the mind. As I dive deeper and deeper into the teaching. I start to see that yoga is for the body, is for the mind, it's also for the energy, the intellect, and the ego. It's a process of purification so I can cleanse different layers that I identify myself with, and tap into the true essence of my being beyond those layers. see the super soul that's always with the true me.

So I guess that's why I practice yoga, on and off the mat. I study philosophy, I try to take what I learn on my mat on my meditation cushion into my life. I try to apply the philosophy to my day-to-day life. I try to purify myself enough that I can live according to the teaching, in alignment with my nature, and hoping to connect with the divinity who creates everything in this life one day.

So yes, yoga is these 8,400,000 postures, but it's not just contortions. Yoga is control of the life energy, but only takes us deeper into the practice when we have that control. Yoga is social conduct and self-discipline, but it doesn't stop there. Yoga is knowledge and wisdom, and it's beyond the laws of this material world. Yoga is energy, it connects you and me and every living or unmoving entity in this universe. Yoga is selfless service to others without the intention to be reciprocated. Yoga is offering everything that I think I am, I have, I do to the divinity, recognize I'm just a temporary caretaker of these gifts I'm blessed with.

So I guess at this stage of my life, yoga is life. Yoga is the path that I hope can take me to figure out who I truly am.

What does yoga mean to you?

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