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What Does Your Favorite Quote Have To Do With Your Practice?

by Greg OrmsonNovember 24, 2014

Do we really Understand the Meaning?

I love reading quotes about yoga, or enlightenment, and I’ve noticed that many people like to share them on Facebook, Twitter and social media sites. I find some to be good, some quaint and light, while others are inspiring and encouraging. Mostly, I keep them in perspective.

Here’s a sample from B. K. S. Iyengar:

“Yoga teaches us to cure what need not be endured and to endure what cannot be cured.”

It’s good, but maybe it’s time to ask what good a quote does. I believe simply reading a quote will do nothing…but if I memorize, internalize, and let it guide my thoughts and actions for a time…then it might influence my practice and my life.

All of us experience stress in dealing with everything from parking spaces to relationships: there are numerous wins and losses, praises and criticisms, fear-making or confidence-inspiring daily events. So we are all ready to grab something that will help us deal with fickle fate and loss of control.

More than just a Quote


But a quote is no magic formula, it takes more. While not the easy route, I believe the only way to approach my yoga practice is to give my best effort, and by doing so, experience its full restoration. Yoga, at its philosophical center, is dynamic and arises from the profound notion of a union with the divine.

If my practice is too small, if I’m afraid of opening up and letting the benefits of a cleansing breeze flow through my soul, I will mind  the very point of engaging this historically transformative practice. I’m aware that change is not always easy. If it were, people would not be bound in chains of their own making.

The rule-makers are winning in my world, and I am sure that if I chose to ignore the rules, someone with a camera would be there to record my lawless deeds and I could suffer the bondage of real chains. But the heart of yoga empowers us to address our chains, for yoga’s deepest impulse is one of liberation from steely attachments.

The chains and rules in our world function very well, keeping us tethered with an ongoing bondage to that which we ought to change.

It Takes Effort!


But it takes big effort and some are not willing to engage if they believe there will not be a worthy payoff.

It used to be that if one put great effort into education – there was a payoff later; if one put great effort into job performance – the boss would reward the hard worker with a raise; if one put great effort into winning by reputation – good things happened; if one put great effort into keeping sacred religious principles – divine favor was assumed.

But our world has changed and the change will happen and you will be a better you. I’ve jettisoned my faith in rule/reward systems; they seem to be broken, so I look to yoga and its benefits that accrue to me and those in my ‘circle of influence.’

Putting in the effort will change you but it will not help you make more money, or leapfrog others to advance at work, or immediately thrust you into leadership positions; but you and I give our best knowing that the change will happen and we will be better and healthier.

It has nothing to do with rewards and everything to do with true wealth … and that is health.

Become the Quote


It’s easier to take a number, pick a quote and hope for better results with a hastily muttered prayer or a 10-minute meditation session.

But this is how courage grows and transformation occurs:

  • you and I attend many classes and give it our best
  • we reform unhealthy habits
  • we think deeply of our witness
  • we commit our efforts to grow, invest, and persevere

One surprising day then, we discover that we have become the quote, not the cute quote, the quaint, or even the strong quote, but the life-changing quote. That’s our reward.

Covey, S. (1989). The seven habits of highly effective people: Restoring the character ethic.

Melbourne: Business Library.

Covey coined the phrase, “circle of influence v. circle of concern,” in his book.

Greg Ormson
Greg Ormson
Gregory Ormson is the motorcycling yogi; he does hot yoga in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii and rides Wildfire - his Harley-Davidson - 365 days a year. He earned a D. Min from the Chicago Theological Seminary and an MA in English from Northern Michigan University. He also writes for cutbankonline.org and HOG magazine
  • Amelia Jones

    I agree, reading quotes about yoga without internalization will not lead to positive results. Yoga can be a life-changing experience especially if a practitioner will live by its principles. Thanks for sharing this inspiring post!

  • Absolutely agree. You need to really reflect on the quote to fully appreciate it – if not, it’s just a bunch of words..

  • Greg

    Thanks Amelia, and Playa. I guess what I’ve written is nothing new at all, but it’s always good to find new ways to think about motivation and inspiration.

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