From Om to OMG… A New Understanding of Yoga #wellbeingwednesday
“The child does not know any religion. The child who is born is a gift of God and has no feeling of inner religion. So we should learn from the birth of a child how we have to live, and that’s what yoga teaches.” ~ BKS Iyengar
This past autumn season was very spiritual – filled with crisper winds, lightening bolt beams of sunrays, and treetops adorned with the colours of fire and lava. It was a special time of harvest, when succotash and pumpkin pie softly reminded us how much we have to give thanks for. For some, it was a time of atonement, a time to celebrate forgiveness, embrace family, and experience community. And for others, it was a time of Super Moons and phantoms. The word ‘autumn’ means modern and I haven’t stopped contemplating as a modern day Yogi, Jew, mother, and woman . . . has yoga become my religion?
According to Deepak Chopra, “Traditionally, yoga is the science of the Self. If by religion we mean the religious experience of transcendence, the loss of fear of death, and the emergence of platonic qualities such as truth, beauty, goodness, harmony, and evolution, then yes, yoga can give us a religious experience. It is not religion in the form of ideology, dogma, belief systems, or compliance…”
I feel lucky to have spent time this fall with my community, surrounded by music, prayer, and family. I contemplated life after death and meditated on humanity and peace. In that moment of prayer, my yoga was being used in a spiritual and philosophical way. But even more unexpected, my physical practice was turned on continuously and the science behind my yoga was proving to be a new religious experience!!!
Singing and reciting psalms at the “The Church on the Hill,” I began to align myself and stack my joints with a heightened sense of ability and focus. My body felt the vibration of the cantor’s voice as it resonated inside me, just the same way it does when I chant my own “Om.” I manipulated my toes within my booties and consciously spread them apart; I lifted my arches and worked the ankles to challenge my inner ankle pronation. I wrapped my muscles and used the minutia of adjustments I know and understand in relation to my physical meditation . . . all in the name of God.
Historically, yoga has been associated with India’s three great religions; Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. However, yoga proposes no gods or saviours. Yoga can also be thought of as a science because its overall effects are predictable if practiced. It is considered a philosophy because classical yoga has a view of the human being as immortal. It is also a spiritual and physical practice because yoga is a system that offers a comprehensive approach to holistic health through the integration of body, mind, and spirit.
I do not consider myself particularly religious, but I am drawn to community and my historical Jewish traditions and roots. In a place of sacred worship and kinship, I can easily bring my physical practice into play to help me stand for long periods of time reading prayers while I manipulate my muscles to hug my bones, helping me realign any instability in my body. Is yoga my religion? No, yoga is my guide, my teacher, my pathway to spirituality, and my physical therapy.
SAM BEDERMAN, an Iyengar trained, Certified Yoga Instructor, (CYA-RYT) uses yoga to assist with healing injuries, aiding in recovery from surgeries, managing chronic and degenerative issues, and as a preventative measure to increase stability and mobility for overall wellbeing. Sam is a mother of two kids, two dogs, and the founder of Yogabodii. www.yogabodii.com.