My yoga teacher gave me an "assignment" last week when we had to cancel our session because of the weather (power outages, snow, ice, cold). She asked me how I would define yoga. I have thought and thought and surprisingly I've come across blog posts discussing that as well. One blog post that I thought was really weird said that some Christians think that doing yoga will turn them into Hindus. Go figure. Anyway, the point is that I haven't a clue. I'm exploring Daoism and I read Buddhist blogs as well, finding insight from both. I actually know nothing about Hinduism, but I follow yoga blogs and really learn a lot from them also. And all of these Eastern philosophies and religions seem to have a commonality but is that just because I come from a Western culture and tradition and so have a hard time differentiating between various Eastern philosophies and religions? And how does the practice of Mindfulness fit into all this. Is that unique to just one system of beliefs or thinking or is it a tool used by many? I know that Daoism has different flavors, as it were, such as religious Daoism and philosophical Daoism, although I'm rather unclear about the difference between the two. And the blogs I read on Buddhism (which also comes in more flavors than I can follow) seem to indicate a daily life practice which is very similar or at least in tune with what I know about Daoism. I am especially drawn to Tibetan Buddhism and/or Zen Buddhism.
And what about Yoga--again, there are so many varieties of that practice. Is Yoga a religion? I know it is a lot more than a physical workout, although it can be that as well. I know it is more than just stretching or figuring out how to manage a particular pose or asana. Again, it seems, from the very little bit that I know, to be a mindfulness practice. When I am doing my yoga I need to be concentrating totally on what I'm doing. I need to be fully present, or I won't manage the pose or I'll lose my balance or I'll injure myself. Is this a form of meditation? That is another topic I'm wrestling with--what is meditation?
I keep finding recommended books on all these topics--Daoism, Yoga, Buddhism, Mindfulness, Meditation, etc. At the moment I've done a lot more collecting of books than reading of them, but I'll get there. I am trying to deepen my spiritual life as that is the aspect of me (intellectual, emotional, spiritual) which is the most underdeveloped, and I suspect that what will work for me will be a mixture of the above beliefs, but I do need to become more grounded, more aware of what the actual beliefs are before I can pick and chose, so to speak, to find what works for me.
My yoga teacher's question was well timed as it matches my own state of mind and my own confusion. And I meet with her tomorrow for my next lesson. At the moment, I have no clue what my answer will be, so if anyone has any insights they wish to share, I'd sure love to hear them.