The Art and Science of Yoga

We need to fall in love with our yoga practice.

When we fall in love with someone there is no effort required to engage with our beloved.  We don’t need to persuade, coerce or bribe ourselves.  And being with the beloved connects us with that place inside ourselves where life feels sweet.

So how can we fall in love with our yoga so that getting ourselves to practice is no longer a struggle?

These thoughts came to me during my practice this morning.  Along with this entire blog, which simply downloaded itself as I slowly stretched and twisted and breathed.  Suddenly it was crystal clear – yoga is both a science and an art.  This is of course not a novel idea, but somehow my morning practice infused it with new meaning – and that is what I’d like to share with you.

Looking at yoga as a science is useful.   Poses can be endlessly ‘broken down’ to study which muscles, joints or organs are benefitting. Thousands of studies have proven yoga’s efficacy in helping to relieve countless issues, be they physical or mental/emotional.  Laboratory tests can isolate which parts of the brain light up during meditation or while practising pranayama.

But if we focus too much on this scientific view our practice may become simply a form of exercise – be it hot and sweaty and super challenging, or slow and stretchy and super relaxing (or indeed a combo) – our yoga is in danger of being somewhat mechanical.  Something we do, as opposed to something we become.  Benefits still pile up, no doubt.  But we may be depriving ourselves of yoga’s sweetest gift – the very essence of yoga – that deep inner connection with ourselves and the divine.

Artists on the other hand lose themselves in their art.  They merge with that which is pouring forth from them.  Time stands still.  Once ‘in the zone’ each note of music or stroke of the paintbrush leads effortlessly and instinctively to the next.  The thinking mind falls silent.  Creativity needs no plan – it gives birth to its own unique structure.

And this is what ‘yoga as art’ means to me.  We step onto the mat and silently allow the body to lead the way.

Can we can give up the need to control?  Quieten that annoying little voice in our heads that won’t shut up and keeps wanting to tell us what we ought to be doing.  Or wondering what we should be doing first……. and then what next….?

When we close our eyes, even briefly, and tune into our breath, all that is needed is to let go.  Remaining still until the impulse to move is strong.  Following that impulse and allowing one movement or pose to simply and naturally lead us to the next.  Like a dance, or a song, our practice will find its own rythmn and it will lead us deep into ourselves.  Into stillness.

And just in case that doesn’t sound tempting enough, be assured that by practising your yoga as an art form you will be enhancing all the scientific aspects of the practice at the same time.  When we are still and quiet, and approaching our practice from the inside out (as opposed to the outside in, where we try to impose sequences or alignment rules on our bodies by outer instruction rather than by sensation within the body) our bodies instinctively seek balance and harmony.

The same concept applies when in class being guided by a teacher.  Our focus may be somewhat outward at certain times as we watch and listen to instruction, but the ‘doing’ of the poses is the same.  From the inside out, even while following principles of alignment or reminders to breathe.

So whether you are struggling to find the ‘discipline’ within yourself to attend classes or to do your own home practice, falling in love with your yoga will effortlessly lead you to your mat.

 

Comments

  1. interesting blog

  2. love all the stuff presented here

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