What is Yoga?
Yoga is a path of devotion to love, truth and understanding. Yoga teaches us to identify and explore unexamined assumptions through objective observation of our thoughts, feelings, sensations, and actions. Yoga also provides a system for accessing our inner resources -- wisdom, compassion, contentment, courage, and gratitude among others. Yoga is about acting in a way we believe to be right while surrendering control over the outcomes of our actions. We practice out of love for the Self, with a desire to know the truth, for the benefit of all beings. Yoga is a lifestyle and a way of being.
Yoga practice is the skillful combination of movement, postures, conscious breathing, concentration, and meditation with the intent of bringing the practitioner closer to their true nature. Our teachers embrace one another’s varying lineages and perspectives. We also embrace the varying perspectives of our students and provide space within each class for individual authorship.
Transformation usually doesn't take place in one dramatic surge. Lasting change comes from an accumulation of small choices we make each day. A commitment to self-observation and development creates a heightened sense of awareness. Through this awareness we see patterns of behavior and learn to create change through discernment. The practices of yoga bring freshness and clarity to our perspective.
Critical, judgmental thinking and self-doubt impede our development. Yoga teaches us to move easily through life with a sense of wonder, light-heartedness and humor. Your practice should benefit every aspect of your life. An intelligent and consistent yoga practice should help you embrace the world more fully and intimately. Our intent at OCY is for everyone to leave feeling calmly alert and fully able to adapt to the everchanging demands of life.
COMMON MISPERCEPTIONS ABOUT YOGA
1. Yoga is about fitness or flexibility.
Corporations, yoga studios and teachers have used images of yoga postures to represent health and wellbeing to sell everything from classes to clothes and from food to cars. Consider the thousands of images of yoga postures that are promoted in print and on social media, and you can see why people think yoga is about fitness and flexibility. Meanwhile, there have been no cues asking them to question this assumption. Yoga may improve fitness and flexibility, but that is not why we practice. Many people begin practicing yoga for its physical benefits, but then realize that the physical benefits are a side effect of the changes yoga makes in the brain and nervous system.
2. Yoga is a wellness modality for reducing stress.
Another common misconception is that Yoga is a well-designed system that promotes relaxation. On the contrary, not all yoga is about creating peace, harmony, and bliss as is often promoted in the Western “spa culture.” While in some cases this may be the result, it is certainly not the sole intent of practice. Yoga is a transformative process. Some of the practices prescribed during this transformation are designed to break down old patterns of thought and behavior so that new, more beneficial patterns can be created or emerge. This process may involve rapid breathing, long-holding of asanas, difficult realizations, etc. In fact, Hatha yoga roughly translates as “the yoga of force.” To live a more peaceful life, it is necessary to confront some of our deepest fears. This process requires a skilled and knowledgeable teacher and ideally, a sangha or community with whom we can share and discuss these sometimes-difficult experiences.
3. Yoga is derived from an Eastern religion, but it's ok to drop that part and focus only on the physical aspects of the practice.
We recognize that anyone worried about how yoga may conflict with their religion must be very serious about their faith. It is our intent to represent Yoga as accurately as possible. Yoga comes from a tradition that includes multiple religions and philosophies including Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, Tantra, and Sankhya. Yoga is about open inquiry rather than belief. If one believes that inquiry with an open mind is dangerous, Yoga is probably not for them -- at least not at this point in their life. Beliefs often change.
It is not our job as yoga educators to convince or "win over" anyone to make them "believe in" yoga. Teaching yoga is an opportunity for us to share something we love, and what we love about it. We look forward to practicing with you!