I am not spiritual at all in the sense that I don’t believe in higher powers, astrology or crystals.
This was a BIG barrier for me when I discovered yoga.
I had this idea of yoga being an esoteric practice, where hippies hold hands and talk about being one with the universe.
And there’s an element of that, sure.
If you look at the definition of yoga on Wikipedia, it says:
Yoga is a group of physical, mental, and spiritual practices or disciplines which originated in ancient India and aim to control and still the mind, recognizing a detached witness-consciousness untouched by the mind (Chitta) and mundane suffering (Duḥkha).
It does sound a bit woo-woo, right?
But in most classes in the West, the philosophy is actually distilled in very small doses. For example, the concept of “ahimsa” (non violence) will be explored by encouraging you not to push too far to get into a posture, at the risk of hurting yourself.
The first time I did yoga, I had no idea this was what I was doing. My fitness teacher made us do some yoga postures at the end of the class, and I thought: Damn that feels good, I want to do more of that.
So I did, because it made my body feel good. But also because I found the bits of philosophy shared during classes interesting.
I was eager to learn more, to keep an open mind and to not be disrespectful of where it came from. Even if I winced a little at some of the concepts.
I don’t think you have to be religious or believe in magic to connect with the yogic philosophy.
A lot of the teachings of yoga come down to: how to be a decent person and how to go through life without suffering. Anyone can relate to that.
And even if somehow you don’t, you can still get a really good stretch.
My approach to spirituality is very much rooted in science. In the feeling of awe I experience when I think about the universe, and on a smaller scale, about the incredible way our bodies work.
I think it’s absolutely possible to respect the origins of yoga while making its more woo-woo concepts relevant to our modern, down-to-earth view of the world.
I want to leave you with one of my favourite quotes that encapsulates my whole approach to spirituality.
I’ve written it down below, but I recommend you watch the 33-second video because the way Brian Cox speaks is just so lovely.
“The ingredients of our bodies were assembled in the hearts of long dead stars over billions of years, and have assembled themselves spontaneously into temporary structures that can think and feel and explore. And then these structures will decay away at some point, and in the very far future there will be no structures left.
So there we are. We exist in this little window where we can observe this magnificent universe. Why do you want any more?”
And if you’d like to experience all of the benefits of yoga without any hippie-hand-holding, fill in this form!
See you soon on the mat 🧡