Today we are having the perfect snowfall. It has been snowing since early this morning, but it has just been powdery little flakes that have coated the lawns and trees but left the roads clear. After the sun set everything was black and gray and white like an Ansel Adams photograph. The world got very quiet. Driving past the park I caught site of a herd of deer in a snow-covered field, just standing enjoying the stillness as snowflakes danced around them. This snowfall couldn't be the result of a low-pressure system. This snowfall is magic.
Caught in a moment of just watching snowflakes float to the earth, we can experience the peace that is the heart of yoga. Somewhere around 500 BCE, Patanjali defined yoga in the Yoga Sutras: yogascittavrttinirodhah. Yoga is the settling of the mind into silence. Just like the snow can cover a riot of color and sounds leaving nothing but a black and white scene, we can let go of the flood of thoughts that seem to always fill our minds and leave nothing but stillness. This is yoga.
Every now and then I need to be reminded that asanas are just a part of yoga. The ancient yogis practiced asanas to prepare their bodies to sit in meditation for hours, quieting their minds. "Asana" actually translates to "sitting". The asanas are great, and I love seeing what my body can do, but a quiet mind is true bliss.
Tonight the reminder came in the stillness of a snowfall.