Millions of people practice yoga each day, but if you asked them what the goal of yoga is they would be at a loss to answer.
So, what is the goal of yoga? Why do we come to the mat?
Is it to attain bliss, become super flexible, to look good in our Lululemon?!
I would argue that according to the yoga tradition, the goal of yoga is to attain happiness.
Yes happiness, that mysterious and seemingly unattainable state we all crave.
Often we search for happiness in external things, whether it be material possessions like that fancy car, big house, new yoga tights, or we expect other people to make us happy, particularly our significant others.
By doing this we set ourselves up for failure as all of these external things are completely out of our control, and can be taken away at any moment. Further, this is an exercise of ego, it is our ego that wants to be perceived as “successful” and tells us we need that designer outfit or better job title.
When we practice yoga we learn to turn inwards and find happiness within, and once this is achieved it is untouchable. When you have a place of pure joy within you no-one can affect this, it becomes your internal state of being.
Living from a place of pure happiness is a choice, we must actively choose to cultivate gratitude and inner peace. This is where yoga comes in. If we allow it, yoga empowers us to thrive in our lives, both on and off the mat.
Being happy in your life doesn’t mean you deny yourself other emotions or are constantly a bundle of smiling energy. Allow negative emotions to arise, accept them, and then come back to your yoga.
Practicing yoga we focus our attention on the body and our breath, which enables us to maintain a calm and focused energy even when confronted with difficult situations. Yoga brings us into the present moment in body and mind, we become centered and grounded with an overall sense of tranquility.
Yoga teaches us that all we have is the present moment, hence we should not seek happiness in the future but rather make the choice to live from a place of happiness in the current moment.
This state of constant happiness may seem totally unachievable, and many of us will find ourselves losing to negative emotions such as anger and fear from time to time, but by coming back to yoga we can begin to experience real happiness.
The impact of practicing yoga goes far beyond the physical asana practice done on the mat. In our daily life we practice yoga when we practice mindfulness, noticing the sounds and smells around us, the taste and texture of our food, and most importantly our breath.
Yoga provides us with the tools to live our life from a place of happiness. Create moments of stillness, sit with yourself and focus on deep breath cycles. When we pay attention to our breath we are unperturbed by the drama of our lives.
Practice yoga, come back to your breath, and cultivate the state of mind that is happiness!