Life & Love, Yoga Philosophy

Spiritual By-Passing and Yoga

From the perspective of Yoga – Spiritual by-passing essentially refers to all the wonderful things you do and experience on your mat in terms of connection and then the moment the class is finished it is as if all is forgotten. Our samskaras (habits, often negative) take over as we roll up our mats, get impatient at the line of people putting away their props or start gossiping about the latest happenings. If we are at home, we might start yelling at our kids to clean their rooms or immediately turn to our phones to scroll social media simultaneously criticizing others and feeling bad about our self. 

Spiritual by-passing is the reason why Yoga (in the west) is so easy to make fun of, and also not taken seriously enough. While we all fall from grace from time to time, and I’m not, nor do I expect anyone to be perfect (because that doesn’t exist) we are missing an enormous opportunity both as teachers and students of Yoga when aren’t fully encompassing what the practice of Yoga is. In the western world, Yoga has become this diluted workout of take what feels good, what makes me look good and leave everything else behind. It has become synonymous (thanks to social media) with the young, white, thin and flexible female posed in a precarious position in a beautiful outfit with perfect lighting and hashtags. THIS ISN’T YOGA! 

Yoga is Union – that is the literal translation. When the mind-stuff has retained its calm demeanor, that is Yoga in practice (Sutra 1:2). Yoga was introduced to the West in 1893 by Swami Vivekananda at the World Religious Fair in Chicago. It was shared under Vedantism or Oneness. In practicing Yoga, we deepen the connection to our self, and through this deepen our connection to all others. That we are all one. This is the meaning of Vedantism. This is at the heart of all Yoga whether we are meditating, reading spiritual texts, chanting in devotion or moving through a series of poses to allow prana (life force energy) to more easily flow. To me, this is the meaning of life. This is life in its purest form.  

As Yoga Teachers we have this incredible opportunity to share the possibilities of what this practice can bring. If you weren’t taught about this in your teacher training, please immediately seek out and read Pathways to Joy by: Swami Vivekananda. Or, read it again if it has been a few years since you have. Let’s start there. For all the other beautiful souls who are curious, who have experienced blissful moments in your practice and are searching for more please never stop. There are countless books on Yoga and Teachers who honour the heart of the practice.     

Yoga is for EVERYONE! All people of all colours, shapes and sizes, of all religions and cultures, of all abilities both physical and mental – EVERYBODY. If you have breath in your body – you can practice Yoga. 

When I first began to study Yoga, I was in awe of this belief in Oneness. It was the place I had been searching for my whole life, and many of you came and stayed for the same reason. I felt that if everyone practiced Yoga that together we could change the world. I devoted the last 10 years of my life to this mission. Yet all these years later it seems that while lots has changed, not much has. The time is now. 

If you are interested in pursuing this topic in more depth, please consider joining myself and my dear friend and Yogi mentor, Tracy Jennings-Hill for A Conscious Gathering. We have created a 3-part series with our next instalment happening on September 12, 2020 from 1-3pm EST, Dissolving the Perceptions of Race and Racism in all forms. Follow this link for more info:

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