Here’s an enlightening truth: Yoga isn’t exercise.
Here in the West, Yoga is thought of as a physical practice, but the twists and poses are actually Asana, just one part of the big Yoga picture. Yoga is a spiritual path, one that we can walk every day. You don’t need to be on a mat or in a class to practice Yoga. You don’t need to be physically fit or young—you can be at any level of fitness, any age, any religion, any anything. I learned this after a near-death experience.
A friend had a diving accident and nearly lost his life. He survived, but was left mostly paralyzed. As a Yoga teacher, I felt completely unable to help him in any way—until I remembered that Yoga isn’t movement or poses. Yoga is a spiritual path filled with tools to help us navigate life. Though these tools were formed thousands of years ago, they are incredibly relevant to us today.
My friend and I did Yoga together. We breathed together. We meditated together. We practiced Maitri (kindness), Sutra 1.14 (never give up), and found Titiksha (endurance). He couldn’t move, and yet he was practicing the best Yoga I’d ever seen.
This is the truth of Yoga: It’s not meant to be done, but lived. We feel great during that hour on the mat, and we can rock a pose that has us feeling strong, but our true Yoga begins from the time we open our eyes in the morning and decide to shine our divine lights on the world.
You can do Yoga right now. Just breathe, and smile.
If you, or someone you know, has special needs and would like to do a Yoga Asana practice, visit the Accessible Yoga website and contact them for information on specially trained instructors.