We live in a very confusing world. When we enter any space in the material world, we exist in a metaphysical cave— whether it be a classroom, a corporate office, a retail store, a home, or even a yoga studio. In these caves, there are always shadows in the darkness as well as a radiant portal of light. It is our job to see the shadows' roots for what they are by ascending our way out of the cave into a space of refreshing clarity.
Through yoga, we are blessed to be given an ancient map to the mouth of the cave where we can experience Self-Illumination and understanding. Yet, the worlds of yoga also carry their shadows and it is important to discern what can keep us in a smoky cloud of "Maya." The Sanskrit term "Māyā" originates in the Vedas, which Sukumari Bhattacharji describes as a "magic show, an illusion where things appear to be present but are not what they seem." This is an environment of exhausting dense energies and separation.
The greatest danger in yoga is becoming regimented and robotic.
Students and teachers alike can be blind in recognizing this. Maya can trap us into constant striving patterns, preoccupying our energy with mastering a pose, gaining a following or achieving as much physical strength and flexibility as possible. It is easy in our validation-addicted society to fall into the physical component of yoga. These days we can witness the competitive landscape that exists within the yoga culture by signing on to any social media platform. Yet the beauty of yoga, or any spiritual practice, is that it is a labyrinth of Self-discovery and portals of interconnectivity. The real magic lies in the mystery and the mastery of balance.
Rather than fixating on the ego's desires for physical mastery or even to achieve enlightenment as an end-goal, we can surrender to the unknown. We can travel deeply into a space of wholeness that exists without the mind's incessant need for identification and categorization.
Through yoga as a means for boundless transformation and consciousness, we become ageless, liberated and in a fluid state of creative ease and wonderment.
The cave of Maya simply becomes an exercise in returning to our natural state by accepting the strange enigma that is life and deciding that it is meant to be fun, exploratory, as well as trusted.
*Photo from Antelope Canyon 2017