B.K.S. Iyengar said, “Words cannot convey the value of yoga – it has to be experienced.”
While no words could ever replace the peace that yoga uncovers – the calm, the clarity, the fluidity and ease you feel as you head back into your day, sometimes yoga’s wisdom and lessons are indeed captured succinctly in a sentence or two!
Here is a compilation of some popular yoga quotes with meaningful lessons to inspire us to keep making it to our mat.
“The quieter you become, the more you can hear.” – Ram Dass
While most of us first walk into a yoga class for the physical benefits, we get hooked on the blissful feeling we’re left with. One reason for this is that yoga helps still the fluctuations of the mind. Most of the time our minds are busy jumping from thought to emotion, emotion to memory, memory to worry, and on and on it goes. As we link our breath with movement, and we start to quiet all that noise, that’s when we can really tap into the serenity and clarity that the practice can help us discover.
“You are the sky. Everything else, it’s just the weather.”- Pema Chodron
Stilling all of the thoughts, worries, to-do lists, and dramas – the storm clouds if you will – helps us access the part of ourselves that is unchanging and clear. When we can find this equanimity, we are less swayed by the ups and downs of life. Whether it’s a stormy day or a bright hot sunny day, yoga practice guides us to remember there is a calm steadiness in ourselves.
“Yoga is a mirror to look at ourselves from within.” – B.K.S. Iyengar
“The mat is a mirror.” Chances are you’ve heard this a few times, or a version of it! In his book, Modern Yoga, Power Living founder Duncan Peak explains: “During your yoga asana practice you might find yourself in a pose that you find uncomfortable. At these times, what do you start telling yourself? Are you cursing the instructor for making you hold the pose? Are you seeking reassurance by observing other students in similar discomfort? Do you find yourself comparing your ability to someone else?… These thought processes, simple reactions to stress stimuli, born out of the challenge presented by the pose, are reflective of how you deal with stress in your everyday life. If you can recognize the reactions and the stories you tell yourself while practicing, you’ll be able to transfer this to how you function in your life off the yoga mat.”
“The real payoff of a yoga practice, I came to see, is not a perfect handstand or a deeper forward bend—it is the newly born self that each day steps off the yoga mat and back into life.” ― Rolf Gates
Whether we’re practicing a physically challenging posture, or sitting in stillness on our meditation cushion, there are “two wings” of the practice always present: abhyasa and vairagya.
Abhyasa is the repeated performance of exercises or techniques that are intended to produce a positive state of mind in us. Vairagya is the complementary practice of letting go of the attachment to the results of our efforts. This may be the greatest challenge both on and off the yoga mat: can we work towards that handstand, (or whatever pose the day is offering!) yet not cling to the results of that work. Yoga is about finding this balance of effort and ease, of intention and surrender.
As our lives get busy again, it’s important to prioritize the things that bring us back to calm, back to ease, and back to ourselves. Sometimes that might be a simple sun salutation, some days a challenging asana class, or maybe for today, it’s just resting your attention on a piece of yoga philosophy distilled into a sentence or two.
Let these quotes and lessons spark further inquiry into how yoga can be a tool to know ourselves better, to express ourselves more fully, and to find a little more peace within our busy world.