Yoga and a Cup of Coffee

It was in the afternoon, the smell of coffee was being carried across the room…

We were sitting as usual buried in comfortable armchairs in the corner of the room where the hustle of the historic city centre could barely reach. Imposing vaults were looking down at us from the ceiling and Classicism oil paintings were facing us from the walls. We talked about philosophy, culture, spirituality… My yoga activities were brought up, too. Understandably, I could not have stayed away from my favorite thesis and I stated that yoga is not a sport.

The popular trend reducing yoga to a set of physical activities is as unauthentic as an image of a yogi as a man sitting in an uncomfortable position with legs crossed, contemplating about something mysterious, thoroughly impractical for an ordinary mortal.

However, a cocktail made of āsanas with a slight addition of prānāyāma and a light touch of prayers to Hindu deities has not begun to be served by the “superficial” Europeans or Americans, as claimed by evil tongues, but the Indians themselves when they built their āshrams as commercial centers for clients mainly of the Western type.

Time was passing us quickly in a sociable conversation and the afternoon swung into its second half.

“Yoga is not a sport,” I repeated my thesis and took a cup of the rest of the coffee into my hand. “Yoga is when I hold this cup consciously,” I continued, focusing our attention on the key term of yoga theory and practice – the notion of consciousness (ātman). Only a fully conscious activity can be considered yoga activity, because only such an activity has a potential to uncover the basic fact of consciousness hidden, immersed and forgotten in a kaleidoscopically colorful mosaic of names and shapes (nāma, rūpa) of our world, but mainly, of our body.