This is Yoga.
In one class at BYC, I saw the words “This is Yoga” printed on someone’s yoga mat. Underneath it was a big logo and brand name. I couldn’t help but ask myself: “Is this Yoga?”. What does the company mean when they write these words? Are they trying to reach costumers, or was this initiated by someone dedicated, referring to that sacred essence that I read when I read the famous opening words “Atha Yoga anushasanam”?
BYC 2017: Back to the roots.
From my experience, this year’s BYC could have had the tagline “Back to the roots”. In all the classes I chose, the teachers highlighted in one way or another, the importance to come back to our intention. To stop. Really take a break. Take a breath, or as many as you wish, look at what we are doing and ask ourselves:
Where am I? What am I doing? Why am I doing this? Where am I going? And is my practice serving me in that which I am seeking?
Are we (still) practicing from the heart?
Yoga has become a big business in the world. It surely has picked up by now. Even seven years ago, when the first BYC was happening, I had the feeling this sentence was accurate. Yoga seemed to be “a thing”. Yet today, some years later, this seems to be even more so. Yoga has reached the masses and has spread to many different corners of the world.
I for my part believe that this is a beautiful development. When I reflect on what yoga practices have brought into my life, I fully and from the heart wish that every being in our universe has access to this or something equivalent. And for many people, yoga seems to be a way to connect deeper to themselves. To centre, to come down, to travel inside and see the bigger picture.
Yet, like all forms of growth and “success’, the boom also has a darker side to it and we are facing questions like: Are we consuming in a sustainable way? Are we respecting the values and principles we are teaching? And: Is my own practice authentic and real?
Why I practice
Many teachers at BYC, like David Lurey, Simon Parker, Patrick Broome, Olga Oskorbina and others, have asked us this year to come back and reflect:
Right now, why are you on the mat? Are you serving your body? Are you becoming healthier and happier through your movement and breath? Are your actions on the mat reflecting something bigger, something higher? Or are you pushing and pressing, fighting your body, attached to the wish to “succeed” or to “get it”?
These are all questions we can only answer each for ourselves. And in this beautiful sangha, this group of individuals from all over the world, getting together in Barcelona, with incredible teachers holding space for us and guiding us, practicing with so many beautiful brothers and sisters, I never felt alone in this quest. I felt curious! Safe and allowed, playful and awake.
Maybe there is nothing to get. Maybe showing up is all we need to do.
Just like the mantra we recited, brought as a gift from Thich Nhat Hanh’s plum village: “I am here. I have arrived.”.
“Now this is Yoga as I have perceived it in the natural world”, Patanjali wrote 2000 years ago*.
Let’s continue what so many people practiced and played with during this year’s Barcelona Yoga Conference: Listening deeper. Connecting more openly. Serving the wonder of our lives and exploring what yoga is and can be. Curiously. Open-ended. Free from demands and full of love. Through being ourselves and through being all together. ❤
I feel a deep wish to express my gratitude to all the teachers that have inspired me at BYC and in life.
Everything I do is because I was inspired by my teachers. Everything I teach, I was taught by them. Endless gratitude to all the teachers who have touched my body, heart and soul.
*translation by Shannon Gannon
Photo Credit: The incredibly talented and engaged Wari Om Yoga Photography.