For the first few years of my practice, I think I expected yoga would fix something broken about the world. It was incredibly naive and perhaps optimistic, but I suppose one day I thought I might just wake up and all would be perfect. So much of my life has been about feeding an emptiness or trying to validate myself through the external world. Yoga taught me to look within, and also to be willing to understand and accept that yoga won’t fix or change anything else about the world except my place in it. It gives courage, discipline, and conviction; yoga has the transformative power to make one a warrior, equipped with the necessary inner tools to navigate this great battle of life.
I recently finished reading the Mahabharata, a great Indian epic about a horrendous and deadly battle. While reading through the pages of this book, I found trouble finding spirituality in the murder, rape, incest, betrayal, love, loyalty, etc…it was so very macabre. It wasn’t until I almost finished the book that I realized the great and also obvious truth of this tale: that life just is what it is. Sometimes it is going to be filled with luck and love, but other times, life will be so unbearable it requires every ounce of determination a person can muster. When shit happens, it isn’t personal, even though it sure feels that way, and when things are great… it isn’t always deserved or something to which anyone is entitled.
Yoga gives us the courage to keep going when life is good and when it isn’t. This is the power of the practice. By looking within for strength, by finding a sense of centeredness and home within one’s self, the chaos and fluctuations of the world have less affect upon the yogi. Yoga can’t fix that which is fucked outside of you, but it will make you strong enough, courageous enough, and flexible enough to face it. Yoga is not a path for the meek or lazy. It is not an easy path, but it is one worth taking.