What is yoga really?

In this age of instagram and ever more difficult yoga poses being shown online, I feel compelled to write about my own take on yoga. When faced with feats that appeared impossible to me on yoga teacher training, I thought I could never teach. I did not understand at that point, that giving a show in yoga poses was not being a yoga teacher. Nor would it be my yoga journey.  I can do a few poses, but I can’t do everything and guess what?….. that doesn’t matter.

Yes it is possible to go into the splits and feel splendid, but does that mean all olympic gymnasts are enlightened?

Yoga itself, isn’t a pose or a move. A move without the mind means the focus is simply a move, a gymnastics move, which is all well and good, but align a move, a stance with the mind and the breath, release all thought, enter that zone and you have…. yoga.

Getting a new mat brings your practise to a more comfortable place and allows you to practise with deeper intention, but the intention is always there with or even without a mat. Learning a new pose, challenging the body, the mind and the breath is everything. When you set your mind to something you can achieve anything and once you can achieve a pose, you can also maybe achieve much more. One step at a time.

Some people come to class unable to touch their knees let alone their toes, so an achievement is touching their shins to them, the outcome isn’t necessarily the end pose.

Yoga is a smile! A kind thought, a mention, it’s looking at the good not the bad in people. It’s discovering your own happy inner voice and being thankful for everything you have, you are alive, you are on this planet, you are a survivor. Yoga is the energy that fills you with life and the flow it sends you on. It’s not a scary thought or fear, mistrust or worry. In the Sutras is says:- “rejoice in the lovely, be compassionate with the sad, ignore the wicked.”

The “wicked” is the anxious part of yourself, the little voice that can easily just get too much attention. Discovering your own happy voice, your own Sat Nam, your inner truth is the journey. Bi-passing the wicked discovering the beautiful loving part of yourself, this is the message yoga brings. That part of you that hates…. some call it ‘it’, that voice in your head which can put you and others down, ignore it, send it home…..

Find your space. Bring that space to your practise.


And then take that space away with you, out of the door and into the world, with a clear mind and a kind resolve, at your work desk, at your home. You can add it to your daily list.

To do:-

  1. live
  2. work
  3. breathe

In those moments, where there is space, inbetween our breath. Those little spaces we experience throughout the day, inside of the daily continuous stream of trivia, media, advertising, questions, to-do lists, news items, newspapers, jobs – in those moments of space – there comes clarity and this is where we can find our selves hidden.

And that self is the one thing you can take with you anywhere. Whatever situation you are in, you always have well yourself,  you always have what is. Change a room, a house, a country a job, yourself will always be present throughout it all.

That saying:- “It is what it is,” is so powerful and yet so simple. And by simply discovering what is, inside of yourself you become infinite and present. Many things are promised in ancient texts to those who find their “spiritual selves”, let’s not dwell on whether we are going to fly here or even be able to control all our bodily functions! The very basic thing we can all achieve with this is peace of mind, calmness in stressful situations and clarity of thought, that’s enough for me!

Published by Sophie Bickerdike

I came to yoga with a bad back and a full mind, lots of constant chatter, no different to anyone else... after 15 years of teaching... my mind still goes all monkey on me, the so called wild horses are still there... but I have it under control, I am aware of it..... my body has never felt so strong... yoga really solves so much...mind body and soul...

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