The short answer.. when our practice no longer serves the ego.
The long answer.. yoga becomes Yoga when the mind functions as a ‘sense’ organ. Just like the nose smells, and the tongue tastes, the mind of a Yogi locates. We sense ourselves here and now: in time and space.. in moment. We live in the power of our own presence.
A yoga practice is a process of experiencing the tensions of past and future (time): we practice to feel.. for example, how the front body projects forward (toward future) and the back body (our past) strains to support us, as we fall away from the centre of gravity (from the here and now).
In Yoga, the mind practices to establish boundaries, whether that be an inner thigh or an outer calf; to establish anchors, like a back heel, so that expansion and extension reference MOMENT. The mind learns to check it self because it recongises ignorance. Life becomes action arising from situational intelligence rather than reactions based on imagination or delusion. We practice as a path to re-member how to remain present. Practice is a process within which we come to understand our fears and desires. It is the place where we learn to check our habitual tendencies.
Only when we are sick of the suffering, when we have reached a place where actions and effort feel hollow or meaningless; or the thrill is just not that big a thrill anymore; or when happiness is mixed with self-doubt and we find ourselves on auto pilot; when we feel brave enough to admit even one of these things to ourselves about ourselves, then we are ready to pose the question of contentment, forgiveness and a life of peace, then we are tilling the soil in which a yoga practice can spout Yoga.
Yoga exists as a state of being within all of us. We often though do not recognise this, and so we have no sense of the body as fertile ground. Rather our earth (our body) gets either flooded with emotion that rips away the nutrient from the soil, or mental hardness dries our (body) earth that makes it impossible for love to flourish.
In moment, when mind is disciplined and courageous enough to remain present, action is from the experience of arising: from the base of a pose; from the reflexive force of gravity. Actions from the arising are possible when there is space in our mental fluctuations – space between the rise and fall of thoughts. Beyond the thinking mind, we act in congruence with the requirements of each situation of life. In this way we learn to experience peace.
If you are interested to study within our school we have courses for new students commencing soon. Follow this link for more information.
Recently I have the privilege of welcoming Russell into the teaching body of the school. Day to day, week to week over the last 5 years I have watched and walked alongside him. Yoga as pilgrimage is the phrase that comes to mind. When we go in search of new or expanded meaning about ourselves, or a higher good - through experience - the journey is called a pilgrimage. When we learn the practice of yoga as pilgrimage it is a journey of encountering powerlessness and at the same time inner strength, confidence and great clarity and purpose.
“As soon as there is stopping, there is happiness. There is peace. When we stop like that, it looks as if nothing is happening, but in fact everything is happening. You are deeply established in the present moment, and you touch your cosmic body. You touch eternity. There is no more restlessness, no more seeking.” Thich Nhat Hanh
Until you experience it, you can’t believe that pressing into your feet in dog pose can affect your mind – in a calming way!