Training is a spiritual endeavor.
For anyone who hasn’t read it, a few weeks back, I penned a brief piece titled: “Jiu Jitsu: Yoga for the Kali Yuga.”
In it, I explored the idea of the word “yoga” and what it really means, making the argument (supported by its many uses in the Mahabharata) that the term indicates anything that qualifies as: “a disciplined activity practiced often.”
When we engage in physical austerities like weight training, martial arts, running, mountain climbing, and so on, they do not necessarily qualify as our “yoga,” unless they meet the criteria of being practiced *consistently* and within the framework of a *discipline.*
That is, to engage in something like hiking or mountaineering once in a while is a hobby, not an act that is part of one’s sadhana, that is, their daily spiritual and devotional practice.
We have to ask ourselves- what is our actual sadhana, our daily devotion?
Because, throughout our day, we devote our attention and our time to many different things.
For some, time spent on the internet or smart phone may dominate the hours of the day- it must be said, then, that being on the phone is truly their devotion.
If hours are spent a day on filling the head with TV or video games- we have to take an honest look and see how many hours a day we spend on the pursuits that we might pretend define us, like our training, and compare the time spent.
Whichever wins- wherever we invest our days and dollars, that is our devotion, and therefore, the god we worship.
I’ve mentioned the idea before: your true god is not the one you advertise the worship of with your tongue or your carefully constructed “identity,” that is, your ego-self.
It is the one to whom you offer sacrifice and obedience.
In this way, our training, if it is a true framework around which our lives are based, becomes a devotional godhead for us to focus upon.
This is why it is important that our physical training go beyond the merely physical, and become something more elevated-
At first, we learn the movements, the techniques, whether deadlift or Darce choke, we are simply learning body mechanics, correct methods, series of interconnected motions made to achieve a result.
But after time, these connections begin to create a framework, and the organic nature of things makes them grow beyond the mats or the weightroom-
Our training affects the way we eat. The way we breathe. When we sleep. Who we spend our time around.
The coaches or professors we respect, and whose lineage we follow.
It changes the way we think about things, and we find ourselves making comparisons to other, seemingly completely disconnected aspects of life, saying things like, “this is like that, and this concept or technique can be applied here, as well.”
Slowly, our “strictly physical” practice grows into something much, much more.
It is my belief that the physical austerities and disciplines are the easiest understood doorways into the greater mysteries- first, we can approach things from a level of simply learning movements, breathing patterns, and techniques…
But from there, we can begin to understand the universal workings, the connections between things, the human body and its relation to itself and the space around it, and even come to know other humans in a way we never did before.
In short, this kind of training produces connection and structure- other definitions of the word “yoga,” from whence comes the term “yoke.”
When we train with our minds given over to the devotional aspect, we yoke together diverse but powerful concepts like mighty warhorses, and they pull the chariot of our souls and bodies to glory, and to victory.