I’m going to tell you what yoga is. But first, a very important point. If you’re practicing yoga and it’s harming you, you’re not practicing yoga, you’re committing Prajnaparadha. What is that? It’s my favorite Sanskrit word that sometimes translates as: crimes against wisdom, misuse of intelligence, or intellectual blasphemy. You can see why this is my favorite word. Prajnaparadha is often THE root cause of disease. In easy terminology it means you know better, but you do it anyway. There are as many examples as there are people and we each have our own personal favorites. They come in varying degrees and the most benign seeming can be troublesome if done every single day and depending on your doshic aggravation.
Back to yoga. Yoga is not truly yoga if it’s causing an aggravation.
How, you ask, might yoga cause an aggravation? Here’s a super common example: we’re going through menopause and we’ve got hot flashes and night sweats and we’re starting to get acid indigestion and heartburn. But we do yoga!! What kind of yoga are we doing? Hot yoga. Not indicated in this situation. There’s yoga causing an aggravation or aggravating an aggravation. It’s not helping. It’s causing harm. And if we really thought about it, we would know it was not helping and it’s causing harm (prajnaparadha in action).
All ‘yoga’ isn’t the same. I’m not saying don’t go out and enjoy your ‘fun yoga’. The goat, the cats, the dogs, the beer, the whatever yoga. Enjoy a different practice and a different experience. And these yogas DO have therapeutic value in and of themselves (be honest, you know the difference).
In some cases they cause harm and we usually know better if we pay attention. Sometimes we are drawn to what we need the least. Hint: the more dogmatic we are that it IS the right thing, the more we might want to explore what’s really going on.
We can use distracting yogas to hide because we don’t want to dig into an anxious/upset/frantic/fiery/stressed mind when that’s really what we need to do the most: slow down and listen to our thought patterns. We can use unhealthy practices to keep us moving and busy so we don’t have to really feel a painful body when what we need most is to pay attention to our body to know if we need to strengthen it or nurture it. We can use yoga to push ourselves when we already have a pushy, busy, overdone life (it’s a thing we check off the to-do list) when what we most need is a quiet nurturing practice to balance a crazy life.
If it’s causing an aggravation, if it’s harming you, it’s not yoga. What is yoga? I told you I would give you the answer.
Yoga is practiced for the purpose of regulating the body. Yoga regulates everything.
–Yoga regulates Prana (your vital life force). This includes breath.
–Yoga regulates Vata. Vata is responsible for the biological body through the movement of itself, Pitta, and Kapha.
–Yoga regulates the mind.
These are all movement in the body. Yoga teaches these three to move together in harmony. We use movement and stillness, opposites, to guide these to bring balance to the body. Health and wellness.
That is yoga. Healing through a balancing of movement and stillness.
Enjoy the above link for Banyan’s Ayurveda and Yoga. Especially interesting is the article on yoga and Ayurveda. The practices are a nice way to see how we shift practice to meet the needs of the seasons, time of day, and doshic imbalances. Have fun exploring. I’m here if you have questions.
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