What IS Yoga?

Updated: Oct 25

Recently I’ve been doing some interviews with dear friends, and new friends. I’ve been learning how to turn my book Yoga With Nature into an online course (so much to learn!), and part of that is learning about what others think of Yoga…and Nature - can the two be combined, or even was Nature originally part of Yoga (spoiler: that’s what I think).

The conversations have been amazing and I have to admit I have been surprised by some of the answers - well paradoxically surprised and really not so surprised at the same time.

It seems answering the question “How do you define Yoga?” was actually not straightforward - in fact the only thing that seemed the same in everyone’s answer was a big sigh, followed by a deep breath in, then “Great question”....a moment later, almost a vomit like answer of “well, union” the ‘of course’ was implied…then another deep breath in as one eye went inward searching for the words to describe this vast practice. The words as varied as the speaker but a general consensus that they just couldn’t “quite put their finger on it” - which considering that many of us have been practicing for years, somehow in all the classes, courses and trainings we haven't REALLY delved into what Yoga is.

Over the years of teaching Yoga With Nature I’ve learned that one of the biggest hurdles to understanding the natural parts of practice, ourselves…is to understand what Yoga is…and isn’t.

AND in doing so arrive at a place where there is clarity in that understanding.

Paradoxically…ironically…I find it most helpful to create a little division first - to separate the practice from the experience. It seems to take the vastness, the bigness, the broadness out of the discussion so that we may be able to get a little clearer. For in fact the practice and the experience are not the same thing…and yet there is something that unites them - we’ll get to that.

I’ve made two pretty diagrams (cause I love pretty things) encasing the descriptions, one for the practice, and one for the experience:

In dividing the practice from the experience we have an opportunity to explore the space between them so that we may contemplate what brings these two together, the yoke, the union of the practice and the experience. The definition of what IS Yoga lies between the two...and there is a definition that is both succinct and encompassing.

By exploring this space we will find a succinct definition that encapsulates both the practice and the experience; as Albert Einstein says “if we can’t explain it simply, then we don’t know it well enough”.

This is one of the many topics coming up in the Pilot program this fall (Nov 1 2022). If you are keen to learn more please email me and we can chat: littlemaetree *at* yahoo *dot* ca

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