BKS Iyengar is quoted as saying “the yoga pose begins when you want to come out.” If it were always easy peasy, yoga would not be the enriching, enlightening, life saving experience that it is. Yoga is essentially a study of the Self. I recently heard a teacher say that yoga practice is a selfish endeavor. I don’t know if I agree with that. I believe that yoga as a practice of heightened awareness of Self is vital for continual development and growth as humans in constantly evolving bodies in a perpetually changing world. If we don’t practice continually connecting with the deeper parts of our psyche and consciousness, then life gets or stays hard and feels defeating, or we end up looking around one day asking ourselves, “how did I end up with this life?” or stating sadly, “this is not the life I envisioned for myself.”
The asana we practice on the mats simulates challenges that we encounter in the ‘real’ world. The real yoga kicks in during the important moments, those crossroads moments that change the course of life and path for better or worse. Those situations that tap the deepest fears and test courage and usually make you want to turn and run as as fast as possible to somewhere…anywhere else and just bail. You know…the intense, but necessary conversations with your loved one where you MUST speak your heart’s truth after holding back for far too long. Or when you MUST finally hold your grown child accountable for an irresponsible choice. Or when you MUST finally say no to a friend or relative.
In these moments the gifts of yoga practice (clarity, wisdom, balance, etc) enable proceeding gracefully. Human nature tends to lead to avoidance, or to ‘come out’ of the position, but when the yoga is at work, the fruits of our practice support the uncomfortable yet necessary actions vital to living from Truth and having the meaningful and good life that is the Divine right. This is not selfish. It is survival.
This week at YB, we begin a study series of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. The text approaches the way of yoga not as a simple, linear path, rather, the Sutras lay out yoga as a method involving a radical change in the process of knowing ourSelves and experiencing the world. It gives techniques with which to analyze thought processes and to meet and lay bare our true human identity. Study of the Sutras is a map and a means of deepening self-understanding which makes us better citizens of humanity…better spouses, sisters, brothers, children, parents, friends.
In her translation of the Sutras, Nischala Joy Devi says “Seek not to learn the Sutras, instead seek to learn who is the one who studies the scripture”.
I am truly excited to embark on this conversation on the Sutras and contemplation of my Self in the community context of Advanced Studies Series. Our greater Lower Alabama yoga community is growing — not just in numbers, but in maturity and knowledge of the seminal, Classical texts of yoga. We becOMe more knowledgeable yogis…we becOMe our best Selves… This is the dream. We are, as a cOMmunity bringing the yoga hOMe. PEACE