“Yoga is not about self-improvement or making ourselves better. It is a process of deconstructing all the barriers we may have erected that prevent us from having an authentic connection with ourselves and with the world.” – Donna Farhi
Each time I come to the mat, new metaphors for understanding the essence and purpose of the practice emerge. Teachers offer words to inspire clarity and understanding, a posture once unattainable suddenly materializes and an “a-ha” moment ensues, or in the moments both magical and mundane, in which sweat drips down from my face or meditation brings me closer to existential levity—yoga finds new meaning. We’re told that yoga is a practice of returning to one’s true self; it’s an unpacking and a discarding of the many layers of armor and baggage—both inherited and self-imposed—which we’ve accrued over time to cope with our personal and generational suffering.
Related: How Yoga and Meditation Helped Me Manage Anxiety
We’re also told that yoga means union: We unite with our infinite unchanging center, a product of our primordial purity and divinity. While the Sanskrit word yoga is commonly defined as “to join” or “to attach”, many scholars have posited that in fact the paramount definition comes from Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras (1:2, chitta vritti nirodhah): “The cessation of the fluctua…