Cultivate Connection: Recognizing the Core of Yoga Practice
Updated: Jan 11
In today’s world, in Western interpretation, we are often more “connected” with asana, the physical practice of yoga. While many have come to realize the benefits of yoga, I invite you to recognize these benefits by connecting with yoga at its core.
Indian Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi, who addressed the UN General Assembly in September 2014 and called for adopting June 21st as International Day of Yoga, explained that yoga “embodies unity of mind and body; thought and action; restraint and fulfillment; harmony between man and nature; a holistic approach to health and well-being. It is not about exercise but to discover the sense of oneness with yourself, the world and the nature.”
The word “yoga” originates from the Sanksrit word yuj which means “to yoke” or “bind”. This is often interpreted as “union.” It’s about recognizing and creating connection. Ultimately, the purpose of yoga is union with the Divine, our highest nature –moksha, or liberation. This is achieved through a disciplined practice and lifestyle (yamas and niyamas).
One of my teachers defines yoga as “relationship” and I think this is a beautiful way to illustrate the purpose of yoga. She describes yoga as a relationship with ourselves, others, our health, jobs… everything. We build a strong love and appreciation for who we truly are by working on a better relationship with all these things.
We discover the sense of oneness through relationship.
And, heck yes, relationships are work. Loads of work. The path is not easy. We can be challenged in our relationships with other people and how we perceive the world around us (Thanks a lot, ego!). But what is most important to recognize is how important relationship with Self is, first. Your relationship with your Self is what forms the foundation for every other relationship in your life. It helps you foster understanding and cultivate connection. It breeds compassion: love in action. It is the realization that we are all connected. Your words, thoughts and deeds ripple.
In my classes, I often encourage students to take a moment to thank themselves for carving out time to focus on their Self Care. You cannot pour from an empty cup. Indeed, the relationship with Self is the hardest relationship to maintain. We get caught up in doing for others or can have a hard time addressing our “stuff.” We find it hard to look at ourselves first before projecting onto others. Diving into relationship
with Self is messy, but important work. And, quite frankly, it is what the world needs. We need a massive "ripple" of compassion. This is just a tiny nugget of what yoga teaches us.
No doubt, the world news as of late has been overwhelming and downright depressing. Politics. Mass shootings. Poverty. Destruction. Hate. Division. Animosity. Right versus Wrong. Good versus Evil. Us versus Them.
We can continue to create division by releasing connection or we can begin really working toward a sense of oneness. We can build relationships, not walls. We can seek to understand. We can love.
It all starts with you.
How do you cultivate connection with your Self? How do you take care of your Self? What will your ripple be?
I encourage you to stop, embrace yourself and go from there. And, then, from that space is where the work of yoga begins.