Yoga beyond the Yoga Mat

The title for this post came to me a few days ago during a conversation with Grace, a friend and fellow McGill MBA grad who teaches yoga “for the love of the game” and is presently planning to start a Yoga studio. During our conversation, she talked about the need to “take yoga beyond the yoga mat.” The common approach to yoga is to go several times a week to practice yoga in a place. Once you roll up your yoga mat, that is it. Yoga is done until the next time. This post takes my last post a little deeper.

Yoga means union of the self with the Supreme Being or Ultimate Principle. If you practice yoga and do not believe in the Supreme Being, you are seeking Him unawares – just beware… I do not practice yoga the way it is commonly done, as a physical and mental exercise. But I practice yoga in that everyday, I set aside a time to connect with the Supreme Being, the Ultimate Principle, the Truth, the Way, the Life, the Almighty. I set aside a time, usually very very early in the morning, to connect with the being, in union with whom all things hold together. I set aside time to connect with the One who said, “I am the vine, you are the branches, without me, you can do nothing.” I set aside time to connect with the Almighty, whose whole desire is not to dwell in the heavens but to make my body His temple.

When I explained my practice to Grace, she said, “you are a yogi, that is yoga.” So, yes, I do yoga, most mornings, for several hours. I do it in spirit and in truth and that of course involves my whole spirit, soul and body. My aim in those few hours is to bring my whole being in sync with Existence, “in whom we live, move, and have our being.” My aim is to experience what Jesus Christ spoke about when He said, “I and my father are one,” which terribly upset the religious leaders and still does, as this post may.

This union is indescribable in its effects on spirit, soul and body. There is unspeakable joy that comes from knowing that right now, right here, I am in sync with God, I am God’s temple. There is deep peace, there is healing, there is love, there is wisdom, there are solutions that seek you out, there is a sense of abundance, making you eager to share, to distribute what others may want to hold on to with dear life, and many more. The question is, why restrict this connection to the “yoga mat”? Why sever my union with Deity at the end of my prayer time?

The One I know as the Messiah said, “God is a spirit and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.” I believe this with all my heart. God is worshipped spiritually. He can only be spiritually discerned or connected with, not physically or mentally and that makes my connection to Him independent of place or a set time. My body is incapable of sensing God by itself and my mind is incapable of relating with Him by itself. Only me, an invisible spirit like God, can relate with and connect freely with God 24/7 and when I do, my body and my soul fall in line as a matter of course.

I have not really started to do yoga until I live as a yogi, on or off the mat. I need to take my practice beyond the “yoga mat”, beyond the “prayer time”, beyond the church walls. My union with God should begin in my prayer closet, it should not end there. The goal is to be able to say like Jesus Christ, who declared Himself the way, the truth and the life, “My Father has never left me alone, for I do always those things that please Him.” Why be pleasing to the Father only in my prayer time? Why rob myself of heaven on earth, of pleasures for evermore by limiting my connection with God to “spiritual moments?” Why not be as connected, inspired, joyful, peaceful in a board meeting, in a time of cleaning or when playing with or reprimanding my child as I am when I am actually communing with the Most High?

I do not live on the “yoga mat” but I live among other human beings, in daily tasks and activities. I spend much more time away from the yoga mat than I do on the yoga mat and therefore, my connectedness to divinity is more needed off the yoga mat than on the yoga mat. My being a temple of the Most High is more needed among other human beings than in a quiet, secluded place. My desire is to be in sync 24/7, spirit, soul and body with the divine will as Christ was. This opens up a whole new world of possibilities to me and for the world because one more human being has opened up his whole existence to be an expression of Joy, Wisdom, Love, Peace, Faith, Abundance and everything divine in a world in dire need of it. And, there is a way to it…

13 thoughts on “Yoga beyond the Yoga Mat

  1. Tolu, I thank God for you always for these great revelations. You are right…Why should I rob myself of heaven on earth, of pleasures for evermore by limiting my connection with God to "spiritual moments? I won't. I simply refuse to cheat myself of his prescence 24/7 – for in his prescence there is fullness of Joy and at his righthand are pleasures forevermore. This post makes me remember your other posting about enjoying God in the silence. So I am going to start practicing "yoga" beyond the mat…beyond the so called "spiritual moments" in the mornings/nights, opening up myself to him so that I am in sync with him 24/7, to be filled by him as he fills the heavens (which by the way, cannot contain him.)God bless you Tolu and yours always.

  2. You know, Bunmi, your responses usually leave nothing more to be said. Thank you for being so engaged. You are an encouragement for taking my "yoga beyond the mat". Even while on "vacation", I refuse to vacate God's presence, like now, as I write this from my room, overlooking the Caribbean ocean, in Montego Bay. There is no place to be out of God's presence and there is no time to be off yoga. Ronke and Tofunmi say Hi.

  3. hello toluhow are you and hope you are enjoying your vacation.i loved the analogy between the practice of yoga and our relationship with our heavenly father in terms of meditating and prayingtake care of yourself and enjoy the rest of the day

  4. Thank you for your comments Ayo. I am realizing that there is nothing in all of creation that we cannot use to present our Father the Creator, since He created all things. Whether we like it or not, everything bears His imprint and speaks of Him. That is partly why yoga can be used as a metaphor as any human activity can, whether spiritual or not. As regards yoga off the mat, it requires practice, so that even when I am not actively meditating, I am still connected. We are doing great here, thank you.

  5. Thank you for sharing, Tolu. "In Him we live, move and have our being"; this is one of my favorite bible verses.I know without Him I can do nothing. It is my desire that He consumes me spirit, soul and body.Love to Ronke and Tofunmi.

  6. Tolu,each time I read your posts ,I said to myself this is the best post…and I can never find which one is the best….all of them are as beautiful and harmonious as aurora.I think all you said in this post is about LOVE…to be in love is not a duty or a task to do list,it can't be limited to one room,or a special time,or special feeling or need….if you are in love ,and if it's really love..it gives you a nonstop need….you can not be disconnected,you can not be out of love,you have to be fed from the vine…when you are on yoga mat…you are talking to your Love,but it doesn't mean when you roll it up or when you close your prayer closet the love is finished till the next time you open it..NO…the joy will feed you till the next time…and brings you the thirst of loving more.Thanks Tolu

  7. Thanks Ope. I truly am honoured that you still stop by and read. You know me from way way back and you have been following this blog from its onset. Thank you. That is one of my favourite portions of scripture too and that desire is mine too, 24/7. May we be in a state of connectedness 24/7. It's not asking for too much anyway, because already, "…in him (not it) we live, move and have our being…"I trust you are well.

  8. Bahar, thank you. I am blessed with those comments. Thank you for always entering the spirit behind the words. Thank you very much for your beautiful paraphrase. I love it and you too. And, God is Love…

  9. Hello,This is my first time on your blog and I daresay I was blown away by the right up. When I read the title I was like oh oh. Yoga? But as I read on, I was deeply touched. Thanks for such a deep reflective and inspiring message.

  10. Thank you Maid of Heart. Thank you for visiting, for reading and for commenting. Thank you for your kind words. I just read the moving story on your blog too – thank you for writing it.

  11. Thank you. It is good to know we both have wonderful gifts from God. Thank you again for your kind words. The value of my blog or of my life is in my connectedness to Source. Without it, I fall like a pack of cards. Again, I really appreciate your visit here.

  12. I forgot to mention that Oluwatofunmi was also a gift after 5 years of waiting. God is really good. Thank you for sharing that, Maid of Heart.

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