Swami Satchidananda says, "If you can control the rising of the mind into ripples, you will experience yoga." It is not an advanced posture. Not being upside down or twisted into a pretzel. But a calm mind. What would life be like with a clear mind, with eyes that can see reality and the essence of ourselves and others?
How do the poses fit into this practice? Asana is defined as "a steady, comfortable posture" in the Yoga Sutras. How often do we feel steady and comfortable in our lives, on our mats? Can we invite more ease into our practice?
Teachers have taught me that the practice of asanas (poses) and pranayam (breathing) strengthen the body and mind and prepare us for states of meditation, where we can practice controlling the rising of the mind into ripples.
So, remember this definition of yoga the next time you practice. You are practicing for your mind, for your peace, for being able to see others and yourselves more clearly.