Downward Dog is Not Yoga
What is yoga?
It's not downward dog.
When we think of yoga, we often think of the poses, the breathing, the meditating... none of these things are yoga, they are tools of yoga- aspects of yoga. Yoga is about utilizing these tools to program the body as the subconscious mind. It's not to program the body as a machine capable of putting the foot behind the head, it has nothing to do with that.
Yoga is about using the body as the subconscious mind to memorize certain states of being.
It's all about the now, the present, Be Here, Now, right? We are human beings not humandoings. We often see people online or in classes doing yoga not being yoga.
What's the difference??
When we are doing yoga whilst in our heads, that means we are not actively present, engaged and feeling the feelings going on inside of our body. The purpose of yoga is not to be able to do a handstand, although I will be the first to admit how much I do love handstands. When we are concerned with pushing our noses to our knees, getting that leg perfectly parallel to the floor, being able to bring our knee to our armpit, the yoga is our reaction to our ability or inability to get there, and then training a new default setting. The leg being parallel is not yoga, that's asana (a teeny tiny aspect of the widely encompassing entity that is yoga). The yoga is whether or not we can find ease within ourselves as we get to that point. The yoga happens when we are holding our blasted warrior pose for another 5 friggen breaths, we can remember to smile, but not just smile with our mouth, smile with all the cells in the body. That kind of smile that sends a wave down your spine and goosebumps up your arms. The yoga happens when we jump into crow pose and fall on our face, we laugh kindly remind ourselves that we are just playing.
The yoga happens for real when despite the fact that we're standing on one leg with our other leg wrapped around it, our arms twisted around like a pretzel, we feel like a bird that can take flight. Even though you may be wobbling and shaking and bouncing so much that you worry your downstairs neighbors might get involved, even though you're supposed to wrap your legs around 3 times and you can only get it wrapped around once, even though the teacher looks graceful and beautiful and you look like a new born baby giraffe just learning to walk... the real yoga is when you find that feeling like a bird about to take flight, despite. When we are truly able to feel at ease despite our improperly wrapped pretzel arms, when we are truly able to feel that feeling of grace and ease despite our inability to stand on one leg, something incredible happens: our body memorizes that feeling (not our brain, our *body*).
For years, I thought I was doing yoga. "Oh, look at me with my foot behind my head, I'm doing yoga!" It wasn't until I was overwhelmed with a thousand tasks at my shitty little restaurant job doing the job of 7 people, that it happened: All of a sudden, I felt like a bird about to take flight. I was shocked and confused and started laughing. People were staring at me, waiting for their food, the phone was ringing, table 5 needed water, someone was here to pick up their food that needed to be boxed and bagged, and here I am sweating, trying to make change for this other person in front of me, feeling like bird so strong and graceful and beautiful that I could open my chest, spread my wings and take flight right here in the middle of this grimy little sushi place?! That's yoga.
Yoga is about using the body as the subconscious mind to memorize a state of being. Yoga is about practicing how you want to feel when outer circumstances get a certain type of way. To mimic the outer circumstances of life, the trials of everyday living, we contort and bend our bodies and then hold it for million breaths. It's not the bending and the contorting that is yoga, it's the practicing of the feeling (& oh, it does take a some practice) of being able to smile, andfeel strong and graceful and beautiful even though you may actually look like a new born baby giraffe just learning to walk.
Remember to find ease and grace, to smile and laugh.
Cheers to you beautiful soul.