A Devotional Practice
I have been hanging in Vancouver the last few days and soaking up as much practice and learning as I can. One Yoga For The People has been my home away from home during my stay and I wouldn’t have it any other way. So much to learn.
Something that has wrapped its grip around me tightly and profoundly, is the notion of perceiving the practice of yoga as one of devotion. The great teacher T. Krishnamacharya would say “My practice is devoted to the Divine. The postures are done in service of the being that blesses me.” I believe as yogis, there is a place for divinity inside all of us. This divinity may take on the form of Allah, of Jesus, Krishna, Vishnu, Buddha, or simply the exquisite divinity that lies within all of us. The word devotion or divinity can often scare off those who believe themselves as non-religious. I would also put myself in the category of non-religious, but do not be confused by what that means.
I have long been blurry on the difference between religion and spirituality, but as if my mind has just been prescribed the correct glasses to wear, the blurring is beginning to dissipate. I see religion as a belief in a fairly specific entity. I see spirituality as a profound curiosity about the relationship between our Self and the connectedness it shares with the people around us, the trees, the plants, the cement, the insects, the dogs, cats and everything else that is, at its core, made up of the same chemical compounds as our skin, eyes and organs. As the practice and study of spirituality deepens, the understanding of our Oneness increases in direct relation to our growing MISunderstanding of how we are separate.
Doing your practice with the intention of devotion is a deep practice of humility, it is an act of giving. You begin to ask the right questions that lead you in the right direction, whether that direction is of the mind or the body. You may begin to give your body the love that it has so longed for in your physical practice. It has the power to lift you out of the egotistical trenches you have dug for yourself that lead you to overdoing a pose or “muscling it”. If you were making a sandwich for a friend you would not prepare it with rotten vegetables. When you do your practice with devotion, it is no longer for you, it is for something higher, something unknown and wonderful, so you begin to prepare and treat your body with the same love and respect you would prepare a sandwich for a loved one. The byproduct of this giving, is the receiving of enormous mental and physical benefits.
If you are weary of these words, the least I ask of you is to try. There is no better teacher than first hand experience, and you may surprise yourself with the lightness you receive. Deep breath in, deep breath out. OM.
Written and contributed by teacher & student Taylor MacGillivary