About Yoga · Yoga Practice Philosophy · Mollie McClelland Morris

About Yoga

Yoga Practice Philosophy

There are many different definitions of the word yoga. Union. Yoking. Moving into stillness. Connection of body, breath and mind, or mind, body and spirit. Some people think of yoga as a movement form, or a series of techniques. For me, yoga is not something that we do. It is something that arises. A state that is sometimes achieved in physical poses, and sometimes not. It is sometimes achieved while taking a deep breath on a commute to work, hiking in the mountains, witnessing beauty or persevering through challenge. We set the stage for yoga to arise by practicing certain techniques. And when we are lucky, yoga happens.

Everyone can practice yoga. It does not matter if your hamstrings are tight, or you have injuries. If you are old or young, fit or unfit, calm or stressed. You start the journey of yoga where you are.

Yoga is a form of working body, breath and mind. The form of yoga deepens our physical experience of life, to become more embodied, sensitive, accurate and mindful in our experience of our lives. Why does this matter? Because through embodied awareness, we can make subtle, skillful changes to our patterns to support our health and well-being. Because through understanding our own emotional landscape, and how it changes and reacts, we can better navigate the challenges of life. Because through sensitivity we can choose to communicate in open, honest and skillful ways, leading to better relationships and interactions. Body, Breath and Mind. The three are inseparable, and you can enter from any, and feel effects on all.

Body. (breath. mind.) In some ways, yoga is like other self-care modes. We clean our teeth and bodies daily, to prevent the daily activities of eating and living from accumulating to cause decay, disease or damage to the body. When we move daily, practice daily, we reset the body especially the nervous system to have the capacity to navigate the daily stresses of modern life, without too much accumulation of stress. It doesn't mean we do not honour that which has touched us, moved us, changed us or scarred us. It means that we clean up the debris, so we can see the root causes, heal what can be healed or nurse what is still causing pain.

Breath. (body. mind.) For me, the breath is primary, freeing the breath within the body, using the breath for its healing powers, challenging the patterns of breath is the key to yoga. It brings the mind into the present, because it is something to feel, the constant movement in stillness. There is no such thing as pure stillness, not while we are alive and breathing. So as we bring awareness to the breath, we bring awareness to constant subtle movements in play within. As I accept this, and feel it, the process of stilling the body, both for meditation and for movement, becomes easier.

Mind. (breath. body) The mind is the great challenge. It's nature is to move, to think, to play with ideas, toss thoughts, create, destroy, interpret, etc. I love the mind for all of this, and at the same time, it must be guided back to quiet. To stillness within that motion, which means, for me, not being hunted, chased or tied to the thinking process. To be able to rest in the present moment. To come back to the feeling sense. Over and over and over again.

Om is the syllable that represents totality. This perspective on yoga is about accepting all that is, from the lightest light to the darkest dark. What we acknowledge, we can learn from, we can grow with and we can surf through in this journey of life.