Yoga has meaning on so many levels. My conceptual mind quickly kicks in with lots of answers about the spiritual meaning of yoga. Yoga means joining daily life and spirituality, it's about delving into experience with awareness and training the mind to come into rest in present reality so that the illusions of some other life cease to exist. One comes alive in the present and the dissatisfaction of seeking something that is somewhere other or happening at some other time falls away. You discover peace and contentment within, in this human body right now. And so on. My mind likes to follow those kinds of thoughts. But really that is a bunch of recycled analysis and reflection from the honey moon era. In reality I think that is only part of it. I do like to engage in that kind of dialog and I think those thoughts have merit but now I think that is actually a bit superficial, or one-sided. It only paints a positive picture about "yoga reality". When we try to paint only a positive picture, our vision is actually a bit narrow, and I would say, not even very compassionate.
The part that is missing from the idealization of the yoga or human experience is the more vulnerable side. When I was in love with yoga and it's wonderful ways, I had yet to come to terms with the areas of my own insecurity that I was using yoga to avoid. In the long run I have had to struggle and suffer after the yoga-love vibe wore off and find a way of practicing that supported me in deeper ways. After losing my mother suddenly and developing PTSD my idealized experience with yoga spiraled down and disappeared as quickly as it takes to flush something down the toilet. Yoga can make you feel high which is pleasant and I'm still a fan of the yoga-bliss that comes from a cathartic practice, or a heart warming group class, however yoga is also a great friend when you are down. Yoga is not just a fair-weather friend. Sometimes people get discouraged after life throws them a curve ball or shit-storm and they think that perhaps that yoga thing was not really that much help after all because it didn't save them from feeling discomfort.
What I have noticed in the long run that yoga is there waiting for you, like a friend that will patiently wait for you to go through your stuff and when you are ready, the awareness that you had developed before is still there ready to listen. If you can let go of some of the superficial goals like having a perfect yoga pose, you will find that you can apply your awareness to your pain and discomfort, and with patience in meditation practice, or postures, you can use the tools of yoga to help you heal and ride the waves of experience whatever they are, happy, neutral or sad. Like some friends that stick with you, sometimes you get angry with them, you might even abandon them for a while out of disappointment or frustration. Yet the truth is that life contains joy and pain and the in-between. True friends stick with you through all of that. Yoga was there for me through all of that and my yoga practice has become like a true friend to me, a genuine spiritual friend that I can trust. This is what yoga has come to mean to me. Thank you Jody, for asking, I have been hanging out with yoga and maybe taking this trusted friend for granted!