Yoga: What Are We Doing Here?

Before starting any activity or sport, it’s important to be clear about its objective. (This is not radical advice.) A golfer needs to know her job is to get the white ball in the hole with as few strokes as possible. In baseball, it’s all about scoring runs and preventing the other team from doing the same.

Know the Objective

If you’re practicing yoga, your objective is cultivating a particular quality of attention.  This state – called ‘yoga’ incidentally – is one in which distractions, while still present, no longer have their hold on you (citta-vrtti-nirodhah).

That’s a key point: yoga is not stretching, chanting, or wearing dry-wicking, spandex infused fabrics. You could do those things and not be any less caught up in distractions, and thus, no closer to experiencing yoga.

Use Movement, Breathing, & Rest

How movement, breathing, and rest (or other techniques) are used makes all the difference:

  1. when movement creates a particular way of being in the body (a fusion of stability and ease),
  2. when a practitioner’s breath is long and smooth and/or
  3. when a person’s attention effortlessly rests for an extended period of time on something meaningful or on something beyond the content or pitter-patter of thoughts,

then the environment is ripe for recognizing the state of yoga, a state which was there all along.

So knowing the overall objective of yoga and knowing how movement, breathing and rest are used to draw us away from our typically distracted state is crucial.

No Two People are Alike

But there’s another key principle that must be considered: no two people are alike.

How I move, how I breathe and what is meaningful to me is unique. One size fits all solutions don’t work. I handcraft my practice by tweaking the movements, modifying the breathing techniques and personalizing how or where my awareness rests when I’m practicing yoga.

Individualized Yoga

I draw on my studies at the Gray Institute to take handcrafting to the next level.  Applied Functional Science® (AFS) has taught me to take advantage of the presence of gravity and the impact of ground reaction force, mass and momentum in creating stability and ease.

Using the 3DMAPS analysis sparks conversations with my clients about where they feel restricted and where they feel successful and it allows me to devise strategies to build upon their current successes.  And considering AFS’s 10 Observational Essentials gives me a framework for tweaking movement and breathing strategies so that they serve the needs of the individual in front of me.

Experience the State of Yoga

The implication of experiencing the state of yoga is profound: when you are no longer consumed by distractions, you  are fully grounded in the depth and breadth of who you are. I want that clarity and I am privileged to encourage others in their pursuit of it. Pursuing that transformational clarity is the objective I stay focused on and I appreciate that my way of moving towards it won’t be the same as yours. Surely, it benefits us to skillfully take advantage of whatever resources will help us get there.

Members-Only: Videos about Yoga

All Yoga Videos

by Dr. Gary Gray & Al Bingham

Defining Yoga
by Dr. Gary Gray & Al Bingham

by Dr. Gary Gray & Al Bingham

Citta Vrtti Distractions
by Dr. Gary Gray & Al Bingham

by Dr. Gary Gray & Al Bingham

by Dr. Gary Gray & Al Bingham

Letting Go
by Dr. Gary Gray & Al Bingham

The Open Secret
by Dr. Gary Gray & Al Bingham

by Dr. Gary Gray & Al Bingham

by Dr. Gary Gray & Al Bingham

More About Al Bingham

Al is the owner of Encourage Yoga in Croton-on-Hudson, NY. He is passionate about handcrafting yoga practices for groups and individuals.

Teaching since 1995, Al has trained aspiring teachers, developed continuing education programs for experienced instructors and worked with physical therapists, personal trainers, psychologists, orthopedic doctors and physiatrists.

Al has co-authored two books on Yoga published by Random House and is featured on Yoga Zone DVDs and the Yoga Zone television show.

Al received his yoga training though Yoga Zone founder Alan Finger and through the American Viniyoga Institute led by Gary Kraftsow. In 2011, Al became a Fellow of Applied Functional Science (FAFS) with the Gray Institute. Al is also a certified Nike Golf NG360 Golf Performance Specialist and works with golfers to train, rehabilitate and prevent injuries. Al is a 1992 graduate of the University of Pennsylvania.

Yoga Resources from Al Bingham

Encourage Yoga
Handcrafted yoga made-to-order in Croton, New York. Athletic challenges. Therapeutic movement. Gentle breathing. Stillness. Come as you are.