Now let's carry on with the story 🙂
The path, in its inception, was for men who fully RENOUNCED all of society in order to go find God. To wake up. This wasn't for house holders. Not for women. Not for anyone or anything OTHER than those fully committed to liberation in the body. Setting ones self free from the confines of our definitions of right, wrong, good, bad, truth and fiction to be UNIFIED with the Divine in body, mind and spirit. To activate and awaken all parts of self. THIS is what called to ME specifically. I wanted to be all in, I already was. I didn't know how to give it all up in the sense of going somewhere and checking out of life - but it felt to me like the path was calling for an inner devotion that was nothing short of everything I could possibly do in my circumstances at all times to be ALWAYS on the path of waking up - using ALL THINGS as a spiritual practice.
The idea of 'doing yoga' as a householder, as a woman, as anyone who wasn't a full devotee is incredibly new.
Only within the last 100 or so years has this been 'a thing.'
We're, in my opinion, still navigating, still discovering if this is a viable option for the path.
But again, the point is to awaken.
Asana has one purpose.
To stretch and strengthen the body in all ways so that we can sit in meditation longer.
That’s the purpose.
It’s a way of helping to discipline the mind and the body for concentration. For pushing through discomfort so we can find the truth. For building up tolerance to that which is deeply painful so that we can be liberated from resistance to pain so as to lean into it and learn from it. Iyengar says ‘ an asana begins the moment you want to get out of it’ - it’s not about making us comfortable. It’s a stepping stone so that the mental work of liberation is possible.
This Path Has Made Me 'Different'
As far as I’ve experienced, living all these things has made me really different.
I eat differently.
I spend money differently.
I work differently.
I speak differently.
I don’t allow myself to indulge in much.
I am always seeking to be in a state of heightened awareness. Looking for the bigger truth.
I am mindful of everything I consume and purchase. Minimalism is a natural byproduct. Knowing where everything I buy comes from - who produced it and in what conditions (non harming) is a must.
This path made me question everything. I was barely an adult when I realized that adult life wasn’t going to work. All that pain I was in from forever was still there - and the disciplines of yoga gave me the power to make the shifts I needed to make (and still gives me the power to make the shifts I am still making) to get out of the system of death.
This path made living a Westernized lifestyle impossible. The two simply don’t go together. There was no way to make those two paths work together. I don’t live where I do, eat how I do, move how I do, spend how I do, talk how I do, practice how I practice for any reason other than it’s alignment with reality. I don’t care how it looks. I only care about what it IS.
From what I understand, the path is a lifestyle. The path is about waking up from delusion. About being able to set oneself free from the chains of consensus reality so as to be in alignment with that which is real. No teacher has to tell you what it is. No human can. It can only be experienced. It is the path of reconnecting to ones humanity - to ones felt experience, to seeing cause and effect for what they are, and choosing to align with construction and evolution rather than destruction and suffering. Suffering comes from living in ways that oppose life. That’s it. If it hurts, change. Learn. Be different. Forever. That’s yoga.
Now, I’m not here saying that ‘yoga’ for relaxation, fitness, abundance or whatever else the world has turned it into is ‘wrong.’
Feel-good-andunance-butt-toning-gynamstics is fine.
Practicing asana in a room full of white people on your lunch break to help you manage the stress of your day is fine.
Yoga to ‘feel good’ is fine.
Yoga to help your body feel better is fine.
It’s a potent medicine that offers its effects no matter how or wear or why you’re using it. That’s the power of something rooted in so much truth - doesn’t matter who the user is, the tools going to offer benefit.
It’s just that these things aren’t the ‘path’ of yoga. They are the utilization of asana or meditation for a specific purpose other than waking up.
You don’t have to be on the path. There is no rule that states this. You can use the tools of yoga for whatever purpose you want to serve your experience and I think there's going to be benefit.
For Me, It's Not About That:
I'm simply stating that for me, it’s never been about stress relief or my body or mastering a pose. It’s never been about being good at yoga. It’s never been about being good at meditation. It’s never been about settling my mind or calming my anxieties. It’s never been about finding something to help me COPE with life as it was - I wanted something to help me CHANGE my life. Radically. I wanted to be a devotee - I was a devotee who grew up Christian and therefore there was no context for who or what I was naturally.
Yoga gave me that context. It was an ‘oh THAT’S why I do that.’
I post photos of myself in asana on the internet because that is part of the tradition I was initiated into.
Krishnamacharya was sent by his guru to take the path of yoga to the people. It was a radical move. Up to that point yoga had been a path of renunciation. Only for those who sacrificed ALL CONSENSUS REALITY to go ‘wake up.’ Krishnamacharya’s guru told him it was time to take yoga to the house holder. But convincing people to give up all the ‘pleasures’ of life, to discipline themselves and do all that is required to wake up WHILE trying to live a ‘normal life’ wasn’t very attractive. He needed something to make the path look more appetizing. So he formed what was basically a traveling yoga circus - demonstrating posture and physical abilities, as demonstrated by teenage boys, as the ‘selling point’ of the path.
He was the original loin cloth wearing, posture doing, nomadic yogi.
If he had had instagram, his page would have been photos of him in beautiful scenery, wearing next to nothing in a deep back bend.
So, I suppose, I follow the guru. It’s not about being a teacher or trying to say I have all the answers. It’s not about ‘showing off.’ It’s just the lineage. I post the things I have learned on my path of yoga in the text. But I live what I’ve written first. I test it against reality. I walk the path myself. That’s why I look so ‘different.’
This practice chose me. I don’t do it because I should. Or because it’s cool. It showed up in my life long before the internet. Before Instagram. I had to read about it in actual physical books. I grew up with this practice.
I don’t have a guru. Life is my guru. I don’t practice anything out of obligation - I live this 8 fold path (all of them) because there’s no other way to be for me. I was doing these things before yoga, yoga just helped explain them to me. I say reality is my Guru and I know that frustrates people - and I think that’s because most are so numb to their feelings they can’t believe that reality could teach you anything. That you could learn from life itself. But that’s my path.
I’m not a yoga scholar, nor am I looking to know everything there is to know about yoga.
I’m not looking to be a ‘good yogini’ or live this life with any kind of ‘rightness’ or accuracy.
I am not looking to be approved of for how I walk the path.
The path is not the point.
Many may find my way blasphemous or profane - and that's ok. I'm not claiming to align with any concept or dogma.
The path leads me. Not people.
I’m not looking to study yoga.
Rather I’m using the TOOLS of yoga to study GOD.
I’m using the practices of this path to understand reality.
I’m not looking to be good at yoga, to be a good yogini.
I’m looking to wake up.
Yoga is the path, not the point. It’s the tool, not the outcome. Not the goal. The goal is liberation through connecting to the ultimate Guru - life itself. The path of yoga has given context and a container for what was going on for me, and what I seek. But again, I am not getting lost in the dogma of Yoga. I’m no perfect yogini and never will be. I am not devoted to Yoga, I am devoted to GOD and I am USING yoga to guide that devotion. Big difference. There are lots of people who want to be good/knowledgeable/perfect Yogi’s/yoginis - and I say all the power to them. If that’s what they want go for it! It’s just not my calling.
I want God.
The ultimate Guru from which ALL other deities came. Before there were Gods and Goddesses. Before there were lineages. Before there were stories and myths and archetypes. Before sacred sites and rituals. Where all truth that can be communicated came from.
I have a deep reverence for all the spiritual/mystical paths.
All ways of connecting with reality.
But again, those aren’t my paths.
I don’t want a story.
I don’t want a myth.
I don’t want an archetype.
I don’t want anything between me and God.
I appreciate all the wisdom and seeds of truth in all of these lineages, stories, sacred paths. I do. I see them. I validate them. I honor and respect those who hold them as sacred. But again - I see them as paths, fingers, maps - not territories, moons and lands. I get that the devotion is a reminder of the Divine - I don’t need a reminder as it seems to be built into my DNA to be looking for God all the time. Seeing God all the time. I don’t lose that plot - it’s the only plot I’ve ever seen/known. Life gets lost for me a lot of the time because of this. It’s a strange path to walk between the worlds all the time.
I live this path because nothing has changed in me. All I want is God.
So that’s why I do what I do. I’m not Hindu. I’m not Christian. I don’t have a lineage. I don’t favor any myth or archetype over any other. I see the lines and strings of truth in all the stories. I appreciate the devotion of all the paths. I appreciate and honor the REMINDER that each path out there offers.
I walk the path of a person obsessed with God/truth/whatever you want to call it in the context, loosely, of a Yogini. Not to be a good anything from the human perspective, but because it’s all I’ve ever known.