So a year has flown by, and here I am just getting around to sharing some images and reflections from our one-year anniversary.
It was a beautiful afternoon that celebrated a year of Iyengar Yoga Hawaii as well as our relocation into a new studio twice the size. We kept it silly!
In all seriousness, though, celebrating year One really got me thinking. It started when I was poking around on Amazon looking for party decor. There were cute cake toppers and powder pink and blue balloons and an “I Am One” banner designed to be hung from a toddler’s high chair.
I Am One.
Isn’t that what yoga’s all about?
Yoga teaches us that we are not the scattered, dis-integrated beings that our racing thoughts, feelings, aching body parts, and evanescent emotions would have us believe. Nor are our bodies separate from our minds (or our consciousness, or our senses, or our breath…). Yoga is a sophisticated ancient-future technology to help us realize the intrinsic unity which we already possess within. One of the definitions of yoga, after all, is “union.”
So there is unity within. There is meditation in action, when all the parts of the embodiment are gathered together in the singular moment of self-experiencing. When I spoke at the anniversary party, I reminded the students that there are moments when the isolated instructions about body parts, directionality, breath awareness, movements, and actions come together in an experience of a unified whole. You’re not just in the pose – you are the pose. In these moments there is nothing to change, nothing to fix, nothing to strive for. You are one. All of the teachers at Iyengar Yoga Hawaii work to make sure even beginners are aware that this experience is accessible to them.
On a spiritual level, yoga gives those who are inclined to believe in a soul (atman) ways to experience their own eternality. We chisel away at the externalities of thought, sense objects outside of the self, and living in the past or the future so that we may have an experience of pure consciousness of that which never changes (purusa). At such time, the piece of divine consciousness within each of us becomes aware of its innate oneness with the universal consciousness, or God.
But regardless of whether or not one has the inclination to believe in God — it’s not required for the practice of yoga — the experience of oneself at the inmost depths, as is facilitated by yoga, proffers profound shifts in the way we relate to the world and to others. Through direct experiences of the tranquility possible within – consistently, devotedly, and uninterruptedly over a long period of time (Sutra 1.14) – we become ever more inclined towards tranquility, compassion, love, and understanding towards others. It’s an organic and evolving process of realizing our existence is inseparably woven together with those around us. In other words, when you practice yoga, everyone wins because we are One.