The Body as “Dojo” (practicing ground of Tao)
Our body is intimately connected to the universe.
Since the ancient time, no matter it is in the East or the West, no matter it is Yoga, dance, martial arts or any other forms of somatic practices and studies, they all attempt to understand the meaning of life through the body, through a physical practice. All of these practices have in common is the attitude of focus that brought on the enjoyment of process in each practice. The sensations of pausing in each movement and the transition in between each pose are akin to writing a beautiful Chinese calligraphy. In each stroke, there is an absolute focus; meanwhile, there is also a completely relaxed mind, such that the poetic beauty of the character can be presented in a most natural manner.
Thus, the human body truly holds limitless wisdom.
In the Japanese culture, there is the “Tao” of martial arts, the “Tao” of archery, the “Tao” of swords, the “Tao” of flower arrangement, the “Tao” of calligraphy and many other arts. As if as long as you add the word “Tao” onto an activity, then it is special. In reality, “Tao” simply exists in the activities of everyday life. As long as you approach it with mindfulness, you are practicing Yoga; you are practicing “Tao”.
The wisdom of our ancient ancestors is always with us. We use experience as a process of learning. And yoga is an experiential practice. It is through the actual personal practice that we arrive at an understanding or even the realm of realization. It is enlightenment through the way of the body.
What is the practice of Yoga?
Yoga is often defined as “union”. It may seem to imply that you are yoking or bringing together two objects that were originally separated. But, in reality, people and people, people and nature, were already in harmony. When did they divide? In mountain pose, we feel the power of holding up heaven and grounding down earth. In tree pose, we feel the stabilizing roots and growing leaves. In Cobra pose, we feel the energy of lifted chest. So that the mind flows with the heart and the form follows the mind. In each practice, the body is manifested in thousands of forms allowing us to reacquaint with our own body and also truly understand this world. The practice of Yoga is not about doing one stunning pose after another. It is not about having a comfortable and nice-looking yoga mat. It is certainly not about wearing an appealing yoga outfit. It is about truly and fully living.
From the start of my yogic journey to now, I have experienced many inner and outer changes. There were times that I’ve been crazily obsessed with the practice, not caring about the physical hardship. And times that I was constantly questioning to a point that my inner conflicts made it difficult for me to even get near a yoga mat. But, each change was all a part of my transformation process. In the end, the Yoga practice is integrated into every part of my life, where all the movements are asanas, all the breaths are natural pranayamas and each and every moment is also the stillness of the mind. The fruition of the practice is the accumulation of each present moment and it is not something we can chase after.
There is no end to the practice of Yoga. Looking back, the beginning of my real practice was when I first finished my yoga teacher training. Being able to walking on the teaching path is the results of many karmic good fortunes. It is with the help and acceptance of the students, teachers and other colleagues from SPACE that I am able to come to this point in my life.
Each time after class when I hear the thank yous from the students, I’ve always wanted to let them know that it is themselves that they should be thanking. The beauty is in the time and the sweat they put into the practice. It is through the solid, step-by-step practice, that real wisdom can be realized. And Yoga has never disappointed a hardworking practitioner. We can always find our own heart through the practice.