I just got in from watching the thought provoking panel discussion at Princeton University on The Politics of Yoga. The panel of experts included:
Dr. Edwin Bryant (Professor at Rutgers University, and translator of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali)
Dr. Virginia Cowen (Professor at CUNY and board member of the Yoga Alliance)
Sheetal Shah (senior director of the Hindu American Foundation and author of HAF's controversial "Take Back Yoga" campaign)
Edwin Stern (founder-director of Ashtanga Yoga NY, editor of Nama Rupa magazine, and senior disciple of yoga master K. Pattabi Jois)
Tara Stiles (founder of Strala Yoga, yoga columnist for Women's Health magazine, and personal yoga teacher of Deepak Chopra)...and by far the coolest, most down-to-earth yoga chick out there who I've been a fan of for years - LOVE HER!!!
Listening to these accomplished yogi's exchange their ideas was interesting and enlightening. The West has definitely changed what yoga is all about, shifting its focus more towards asanas (poses) and away from the spiritual/intellectual theories, and this is what most of what the discussion revolved around. It was refreshing to see that although each yogi may have studied under a different lineage, or focuses more on asanas than Sanskrit terms...yoga is within each one of us and how we interpret it and incorporate it into our daily life is really what it's all about.
For me, yoga has taught me awareness. Mindfulness is yoga...in every movement, thought, action or moment of my life. I know that may seem like a simple 3-words, but it's completely changed the quality of my life for the better, allowing me to be present in my body and able to fully feel moments. I'm so grateful for this awareness and can't imagine what my life would be like without it. I appreciate such little things and fleeting moments because of the joy I get from each experience. The awareness I've cultivated over all of these years practicing has let me become more in touch with my true inner self. My yoga practice is such a beautiful, transformative experience each and every day!
What is yoga to you? How has your yoga practice changed you?