Hatha Yoga, Shmata Yoga

A self-realized meditation master once said:

Hatha Yoga, Shmata Yoga. Even en elephant can stand on his front legs, but has the Ida and Pingala merged into your Sushumna? Is your courtyard filled with the fragrance of your own love?

I am paraphrasing here, perhaps quite liberally, but you get the jist of it.

It’s a question I come back to again and again. What makes asana more than a physical discipline, even one done with an awareness of breath and good alignment?

And the answer keeps coming back: it’s the context we give it, the intention behind it, and the inner trajectory it moves us in that brings asana into the realm of spiritual practice and part of a larger path of self-development.

All we do on our mats - the one-pointedness we cultivate, the strength we engender, the vitality we increase and even the more subtle awareness ourselves we cultivate – must be placed in service to our own evolution and to becoming a stronger force of love and goodness in the world for it to be yoga.

Although it may indeed hold remarkable and valuable health benefits, a posture is not necessarily anything more than a physical exercise unless we choose to make it so.