Last updated: Jan 26, 2009
The Sanskrit word for unity is “yoga,” so President Obama's inaugural speech about coming together as Americans really hit home for me. Lately I've been thinking about how I can move toward unity in my yoga practice.


To start, we all need to have an open mind to other forms of yoga. Yogis seem to have become divided based on the type of yoga we practice. People who practice iyengar think that no one takes the time to study, and people who practice vinyasa think that other forms have no soul and are too intellectual. This week, take a break from your usual yoga practice: attend a new class and embrace a different form.

While you're at it, give some thought to other forms of exercise. Just because I may prefer yoga over running or spinning doesnt make me a better person—and I shouldn't exhibit “spiritual snobbery” over my fellow gym-goers. Our yoga doesnt make us better or different than anyone else, its just something that works for us. While I'm not about to lace up my sneakers for a four-mile jog, I am going to make an effort to set aside my small prejudices toward pavement pounders and iron pumpers. I invite you to do the same.

My favorite way for yogis to come together? Try practicing partner yoga to actually get your hands on one another. It hasnt been my specialty, but I have practiced partner yoga in the past and it has been a profound experience of trust, selfless service, and, yes, unity. The times that I have really surrendered to a partner yoga practice, I have laughed, cried, and had moments where I really didnt know where I ended and the other person began. I have known the meaning of giving and receiving and just being, not doing, along with someone else. I have felt unity. I have felt yoga.

So in our small way, lets heed the call to unity by putting our differences aside, offering a late person a spot on the floor near you, silently sending your good will to the other yogis in the room, and, just for fun, grabbing a friend and trying out some partner yoga. If nothing else, it will be good for a laugh.