Yoga is Union
The Sanskrit word yoga is derived from the root yuj, “to unite.” If yoga means “union” then that means there must exist 2 poles and some movement toward one another. Yoga is the union of all opposites. Your participation in the opposites does more than you know.

It is the first cell of life where the unseen spirit took form when mother and father surrendered to each other. Within days your whole life bloomed, from the heart the whole spine and chakras flowered. The source of this flower is the heart or hridaya, and ancient word meaning giving and receiving, union of male and female.

The heart is the place where all opposites are in union and the origin of all opposites, from where the life energy flows. The union of the seen (physical body) and the unseen (nurturing source). The heart on the right, the one-cell spark of life (hrid) where your physical body unfolded from; the physical beating heart on the left; and the energetic heart (anahata chakra) where the nurturing energy flows base to crown.

This energy movement, prana, the movement of the heart, is the nurturing source moving through you as your breath. The source and seen are one. You are the whole body. The whole body is where opposites have perfectly merged.

An asana practice is participation in the union of all opposites: left/right, above/below, front/back, inhalation/exhalation, inner/outer, within/without, spirit/form. All these opposites contain the male/female equation of life already in perfect union. Hatha Yoga is strength that is receiving.

When we move with the breath, the base and strength of the body lifts in and up literally closer to the heart in cooperation with the heart the nurturing source of life. The head surrenders to its source, the heart literally lowering to the lifting chest in acknowledgement that without the heart, the nurturing source, and the first cell of life there would be no mind. The mind serving its source in heart connectedness and “mind-FULLness” one to another.

The inhale and the exhale working together as one yet each are separate. Together more powerful than just one or the other.

When we connect with our breath, the life giving force of existence then we must also find the united opposite of that: death. Gandhi said, “You must learn to be still in the midst of activity and to be vibrantly alive in repose.” The balance between pose and repose.

We find duality all around us – life and death – yet there is no separation. You can’t have one with the other. The world is characterized by opposites – heat and cold; light and dark; male and female; positive and negative; success and failure; pleasure and pain. As long as we are caught swinging between these opposites, we cannot find the sense of peace between them. All opposites are part of the whole, creating perfect balance.

The warrior and the child. The baby and the corpse . Surrender to the gravity of savasana. Death to all poses. A symbolic death of releasing from the physical. Corpse pose invites you to absorb all that you have done to all that you are. It is a moment of great transition.

Your yoga, asana and pranayama, creates union in the body – top to bottom, front to back, up and down, left and right. Strength without flexibility is weakness, and flexibility without strength is also weakness. We need to be strong but not rigid, flexible but not without purpose. Union of inhale and exhale. Union of the breath and body. The body and breath have a love relationship. YOU are your longest love affair. Yoga is love of life. Your breath is your teacher. The union of a pair of opposites, the yoking of oppositional energy. As above, so below. The union of earth and sky. From this strong base, you can extend your wings and fly high. Roots and wings. For how can a bird fly on one wing?

The manifestation of earth and heaven is seen in the yin-yang symbol. Two opposite energies, light and dark. The endless cycle of coming into being and passing away. Like the sunrise and the sunset. The balancing of yin and yang…upon reaching the end transforms into its opposite. The upper part of the body belongs to the receptive yang energy. The lower, base to the strong yin energy. Breathing in is yIN. Breathing out is yang.

Yoga and health are all about finding a harmonious balance between opposing forces. Yang and Yin. Day and night. Movement and non-movement. Effort and rest. Elimination and assimilation. Desire and despair. Passion and pain. Force vs. feeling. Winning vs. growing. Violence vs. awareness. Intolerance vs. compassion. Looking outward vs. looking inward.

This polarity is also seen in the brain as left and right hemispheres. Being “left brained” is encouraged by our society…strong, logical, rational, verbal. While the “right brain”…the emotional, the heart, receptive, overlooked. We live in a society that does not support emotional awareness. This is the place where head meets heart…as above so below. The union of consciousness and awareness, the seen and the unseen source.

The Body, Breath & Brain united. The merge of inhale-exhale. Inner and Outer. Within and Without. Surrender of Father to Mother. Receptivity of feminine makes you stronger. Strength and softness, effort and ease…Sthira–Sukha. The strong masculine and soft feminine…strength-receiving. The balance of intimate partners. The merging of mother-father…Shakti is the powerful feminine, Shiva the father of creation. Sun-Moon. Ha, Solar Energy and Tha, lunar energy. Ha-Tha…Hatha Yoga.

Yoga unites EVERYTHING. You are not perfection waiting to be. You are perfectly composed now. When you are perfect, you do not need to revolve & evolve or be enlightened. Yet we are frustrated, we want more. Why do we look for something more? You ARE perfect, whole and complete now. There is nothing to be done, nothing to change, nothing to fix. Never aspire to be higher than you already are. There isn’t more because you are ALREADY complete. There is no accomplishment greater than what you are already. Yoga is the state where you are missing nothing. So…stop looking, start living. Enjoy the feeling of union, peace, and “at-ONE-ment”.

Author's Bio: 

Karen Pierce is a professional organizer and yoga teacher. She helps people transform their lives…inside and out.
She was introduced to meditation and yoga as a teen and has continued to deepen her practice over nearly 3 decades. Karen holds many certifications including her E-RYT 500 through Yoga Alliance, is a certified Yoga Ed instructor, a Professional Yoga Therapist, and a member of the International Association of Yoga Therapists. She is dedicated to bringing the practice of therapeutic yoga to all populations in a safe format that is rooted in exercise science. Her style is based on being safe and includes many modifications and adaptations. You will learn when to push, when to surrender and when to rest. Her approach focuses on falling in love with yoga and her students love her challenging, ever-changing classes and her upbeat, relaxing style. Karen is also the author of Yoga Bear: Yoga for Youngsters - a children's book published by Northword Press (2004) and Co-Contributor to Yoga in America (2009).

A life-long student of yoga, she has been blessed to have learned from many world renowned yogi masters. Her style is based on her extensive teaching experience and her studying with multiple lineages, teachers and styles of yoga. Karen takes what is most helpful and meaningful from a vast array of different sources and styles... but her heart belongs to the teachings of Krishnamacharya and her dedication to her mentor Mark Whitwell. Mark is a gifted teacher and she is fortunate to have the experience of the true spirit of yoga and the authentic essence of how it was taught over 100 years ago by Krishnamacharya who was a true pioneer in his ability to translate ancient teachings and make them relevant in a modern context. He inspired thousands of practitioners worldwide and today his teachings are very popular through his many students including his son TKV Desikachar (Viniyoga), BKS Iyengar (Iyengar), Pattabhi Jois (Ashtanga), and Srivatsa Ramaswami (Vinyasa Krama).

Karen is a master of progressive teaching (breaking poses down in a systematic way and teaching series classes that train students to master the actions and the inner attitude to progress in a logical and balanced way over time.) Karen works with movement sequencing (asana and somatics), breath work (pranayama), mudras, energy work, and the wisdom of Ayurveda (Indian Medicine) so that the yoga can be adapted to all levels of ability. Every class has an intention or sequencing (krama) that is unique to the group and follows Krishnamacharya's principle to "teach what is inside you, not as it applies to you, to yourself, but as it applies to the other." Yoga should always be adapted to the unique needs of each individual.

As a Yoga Therapist, Karen works one-on-one with individuals honoring ancient yoga techniques while combining modern wisdom to identify imbalances and empower the person to progress toward improved health and well-being. Through in-depth postural assessment, testing of specific joint range of motion and muscle strength, observing breathing patterns and taking into account the person's Ayurvedic constitution, a customized treatment plan is devised. Yoga therapy's greatest goal is to guide each person in his/her own deeper awareness, greater understanding, and movement to facilitate healing and wellness.

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