I teach yoga as a one-credit undergraduate course at GWU in Washington, DC. At the start of each semester, I ask the students to pair up and define within a couple sentences “what is yoga?”
As they’re crafting their answers I remind them that whatever they come up with, it’s right. Yoga is a very individual experience so for each person the definition will vary. Here are a few of the responses I received in last week’s class:
– Yoga is a way to improve posture
– It helps reduce stress
– It’s a practice that connects your body and mind
– It’s a way to cleanse the body of physical toxins as well as cleanse the mind
– Yoga keeps your body flexible and strong
– It helps you focus and think clearly
The beauty of yoga is there is no limit to what yoga is and can be. And what yoga is for you today, it may be completely different for you tomorrow. Yoga consists of many practices – breathing, meditation, postures, ethical guidelines – all of which can help you anywhere, anytime. You don’t need anything to do the practices. You simply need to be open and willing to try. It’s from there your own definition of yoga appears.
Even my answer to this question varies. I searched my blog for “what is yoga” as I was writing this post. Apparently, I’ve written about this almost annually for the last 5-6 years. What’s fascinating is how different each answer I’ve offered varies. See here.