Are you the type that is lured in by the debonair musings of your yoga instructor? Are you enchanted by his/her grace, positivity, and/or personality that you find yourself arriving on your mat much in the same way you arrive at your seat at the local theater? Are you inspired by the unabashed expressions of love and devotion they put on display, and inwardly covet that same willingness to outwardly express that side of yourself?
Does being a part of the yoga community seem cultish to you, knowing full well that you would otherwise judge it up and down, if only you weren't a part of it? Do you, as a result, resign yourself to the periphery of this cultish community, where cute tops, motivational quotes, and core work are about as far as it goes?
Could you on the very same morning be brought to blissful tears by your practice and later call it all into question after reading something from a disgruntled, disillusioned former-yogi who warns you not to drink the Kool-Aid?
What we can begin to realize is the fine art of balancing all that is in the head with all that is in the heart. We must seek out and experience this balance for ourselves, each one of us. We must be just as willing to listen to the perspectives of the master teacher as well as those of the newbie, while at the same time, recognizing our own perspective. We must be just as interested in the experiences of the Bhakta as well as those of the born again, former-yogi, while at the same time, remaining interested in our own experiences. We must be open to remembering lessons that came from a time before we came to yoga, along with lessons we learn today.
Ultimately, experiencing true balance is not just a constant endeavor, but also a high expression of self-awareness. Lose sight of balance and find yourself ina a state where you're potentially bound to thought, blinded by emotion, or suffering from the tightness of your own grasping and clinging.
Yoga, in particular, is an arena where so much of our experience depends on what someone else says or has said, or how they say it. We put ourselves in the position of the student, the receiver, becoming overly cognitive much of the time. Perhaps becoming too interested or possibly distracted by what is said to us, we may find ourselves inadvertently out of balance.
What does this look like in yoga? When the physical practice becomes predominantly goal-oriented or performance based, we can start there. When we become more interested in and know more about our yoga teacher's issues than our own, something is out of balance. When we fall chronically into autopilot, or find ourselves checking yoga off a list of tasks, something is out of balance. Even when we long for, and strive, and grasp, and try for a once realized blissful state of being, we need to realize the inherent imbalance in that.
Recognize that the work of coming into balance IS healing, in and of itself. Isn't this what we are doing here? Healing ourselves? Or better yet, realizing our ability to heal ourselves? Can't it be that simple? Creating a body that is healthy and strong enough as to not distract us from connection with spirit- this is awesome. Purifying and strengthening the mind enough so that it does not seek to overrun spirit- this is simply righteous. It is this yoking, this yoga, this balancing of mind, body, & spirit that not only defines the practice, but it also defines the result, and is synonymous with growth, healing, and balance.
When the dimming, yet all too familiar combo of ego and medications fails us, and we're faced with the truth of the practice from an experiential level, there's no denying that the strength and healing, and transformative power of the yoga practice lie in the balanced connection between mind, body, and spirit.
No dogma. No charismatic leader. No bullshit, and certainly no Kool-Aid.