What is Yoga?
A Guest Blog Post by Camille Robins
“Yoga” means something a little different to everyone – and seeing as I’m just one person, I can only say what’s true for me. All I have is some insights gained from a steady asana practice, and a few years of paying attention to what’s going on inside of me and around me – of bringing back my attention again and again to what I think and feel and experience as I move through this life.
And at 25, I have some experience; not tons, but some.
I have a few thousand hours of asana practice under my belt, during which I’ve shown up to class or my personal practice in all sorts of states. I’ve been tired, lonely, helpless; ecstatic, content, totally neutral. I’ve been in the eye of storms that need calming, in the thick of heat that needed cooling – and I’ve known that just about each time I show up on the mat, my practice has the power to deliver what I need.
But, interestingly, what I need changes from hour to hour, day to day, and year to year – just as it does for all of us. My practice has transformed as I have, reflecting fluctuations in my energy level, my strength (or lack thereof), the tone of my thoughts and emotions. The kind of asana I tend toward at any given time might be more yin if I hope to calm and restore, more yang when the fire inside me longs to burn bright, or – more often than not – some combination of the two. As I’ve become more attuned to the messages my body gives me, the better I’ve become at tailoring my practice to fit my needs.
Throughout this time I’ve also been able to weave in various elements to my practice as my interests in them wax and wane: there’s been the study of chakras, meridians, and nadis when the subtle energetic body has intrigued me; of the quadratus lumborum and piriformis and trapezius when anatomy has piqued my interest; even of Sanskrit when I’ve wanted to feel a connection to those who wrote about the first traditional practices in the ancient Hindu language hundreds and hundreds of years ago.
Amazingly, yoga is vast enough to keep my attention as I explore its countless facets. It’s flexible enough to allow me to take it in different directions, and accepting of all the color and flavor I want to add to it. And it encourages me to stay curious, always.
All it asks is that I start with what I’ve got with me today: myself on my mat, here again. Yes, it says; let’s do a little work. Thanks for showing up. Here we go!