“You cannot do yoga. Yoga is your natural state. What you can do are yoga exercises, which may reveal to you where you are resisting your natural state.” ~Sharon Gannon
We often speak of “doing yoga” when we speak of doing the physical postures (asana) and breathing exercises (pranayama). Indeed, for many of us, these yoga exercises are where we start with yoga. However, we quickly find that yoga is much greater than the postures. Even without further study of the philosophy or precepts of yoga, it becomes apparent as we do the exercises that they are having much deeper effects on us than simple physical conditioning.
I like this reference to yoga as our natural state because I think much of what yoga attempts to do is to reverse much of the conditioning we have absorbed from our surrounding culture so that we can better become the authentic people that we were created to be. The physical postures and the breathing exercises do have great physical effects that can also lead to improved psychological and emotional health in and of themselves.
However, they also bring us back in touch with ourselves in such a way to allow us to access our deeper witness consciousness that enables us to observe ourselves and our thoughts in ways that do show us the places where we resist being our authentic selves. We see our fears, our wounds, our places of resistance, our unhealthy patterns (samskara).
Having seen these things, we can now have the choice to change them in ways that return us closer to the natural state of the person we are meant to be.