My yoga teacher Don Stapleton translates Patanjali’s infamous yoga sutra 1.1, Atha Yoga Nusashanam, not as is classically defined, “Now the discipline of yoga,” but as “Now the inquiry of yoga.” In this way, yoga is realized not to be a noun, a thing that has been defined and is to be learned, studied and repeated, but as a verb, something that is happening in the now moment of our lives. Yoga is a focusing on the ever-changing present moment in order to awaken to the consciousness of who you are.
Your yoga practice on the mat, whether it is moving through postures, harnessing the breath, concentrating the mind, or observing thoughts, moods or sensations, are all simply what you do to allow consciousness to unfold before your very eyes. This ability to be a non-judgmental witness is what is important while you are doing any of the above elements of a yoga practice. Allow space for you to be You. Ask yourself what your body and mind desire, from moment to constantly changing moment, and listen for the wisdom of your organism to guide you into even deeper layers of Self.
Learning to tap into your own inner wisdom, the guru within, is precisely why in my classes I give you options for how to move your body or where to focus your mind, and why I am constantly reminding you to check in with where you are at and what you need.
From the very beginning of this class in child’s pose you are guided to choose whether you would like to have thighs together or separated, and are given time to wiggle, adjust and move. Then you are asked to notice what is going on for you in the present moment, mentally, emotionally and physically. As you awaken your spine in cat/cow tilts you are invited to move faster or slower than I am. Then as we come into our first downward dog together, notice if your prana, your life force energy, is asking you to move to flow or bend or twist in any particular way, and begin to feel comfortable following the natural impulses that arise within you.
In this way, yoga is experienced as an inquiry, as a window through which you can be with your self, precisely as you are.