Taking Magic Seriously

Mar 29, 2023


I’ve heard from students many times over the years that they appreciate that I’m a ‘real’ person with a ‘real’ body. While I’m never quite sure who I’m being compared to when they say this, I appreciate the sentiment, because I do endeavor to be someone who shares yoga from my lived experience. 

I’ve always been very comfortable with the ‘real’ things we do in yoga, the abhyasa, the steady, dedicated effort we make, the concrete actions of yoga practice.

But a few months ago, I got a different message. I had been journaling about a contemplation question for a study group I’m facilitating on Bhakti Yoga, the Yoga of Devotion. Holding the question in my mind, I went out for a walk. Looking up at puffy pink and peach clouds in the evening sky I heard inwardly:

‘Remember, there is magic.”

Of course, there is.

Yoga has always been a path where effort couples with letting go.

Where our actions are offered in the context of something larger, ultimately more sublime than our minds can fully grok.

Yoga is both in the steps we take, and in the ways in which we surrender those efforts to the mysterious nature of transformation; where the essence of shift is, at the end of the day, beyond simply what we do. Its effort coupled with magic.

Magic can’t be seen or quantified, but it can be acknowledged, remembered, and welcomed. And when we do, it’s powerful. 

The nature of right effort, as I see it, is a dance between acting and letting go, of doing and opening to the unknowable. It’s what I believe is ultimately meant by the iconic teaching of the Bhagavad Gita that defines yoga as skill in action.

There is so much we don’t know and cannot see, and yet (and this sometimes blows my mind), we can learn how to align with this mysterious, sublime force. 

Yoga gives us tools to live in partnership with magic, to open to and trust the benevolent, loving, and expansive guidance available to us at every moment. 

Like I said, it blows my mind.

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