Yoga is the gathering of all ones energies into a convergent movement. Yoga is the practice that leads one to discover ones integral self. Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras offers many methods and also says one must choose wisely the method that is best suited to ones temperament. Dhyaana i.e., attentive and insightful observation of oneself and ones world is the goal of all these practices.
The popular idea of Yoga is confined to the practice of Aasana and Praanaayaama. This is just the visible tip of the profound practice. The central idea of all the practices described in the Sutras is that the world can be an object of consumption (when the world in-turn consumes you) or it can be a mirror that helps you learn about your self. The person who gets caught in consumption is called a Bhogi, and the one who walks the path of insight and learning is called aYogi.
What are the ‘mirrors’ that Yoga offers? Firstly it offers the mirror of relationships. It asks the person to be cognisant of ones boundaries and to maintain a quality of kindness and honesty in all ones interfaces. Observing the nature of our actions is a very important mirror. The inner practice that ensures outer order is: purity of intent and contentment born out of a sense of gratitude for what one has. It is the inner quietude that creates the space for graceful action.
Secondly Yoga directs ones attention to ones body. Aasana is a way of doingDhyaana on ones body. This practice paves the way for one to be attentive to the stresses one accumulates in ones body. Sensitising oneself to the signals that are constantly being generated by ones body is essential to being vitally alive to ones context. A warrior who is insensitive to his/ her context is in grave danger of getting killed.
Thirdly, Praanaayaama sensitises us to our emotional self. The smallest change in our feeling tone is accompanied by changes in breath. By sensing these changes and contemplating upon its causes, one gets in touch with the subconscious baggage of conditioning that one carries.
A mind that has ‘cleansed itself’ through the observation of ones’ behavior, ones’ body and ones’ emotion is ready to be directed to understanding the subtle and profound mysteries of life. The sutras also say that any enquiry one takes up when persisted with will lead one to the ultimate truth. Pursuing excellence in ones chosen profession is definitely “a path with a heart”.
The benefits of this practice are obvious. Proficiency in ones actions, health and vitality and an inner sense of peace are some of the outcomes that have been reiterated in the Upanishads over and over again while recommending the practice of Yoga. One of the comments that I get constantly from people who take up the practice is that they get back twice the time they put in and end the day feeling energetic.
What comes in the way? Except for the absence of good teachers who understand the depth and width of Yoga I am at a loss to find a reason why one would not take up this practice! Having said that, finding the right teacher is not a trivial problem, and there is always the initial inertia to be negotiated. Yoga does ask one to take ones life seriously and to want to lead a life that is spiritually meaningful.
Yoga: Songs of healing and love come from the Agnya Chakra
Photograph of the mount Kailash downloaded from the net
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My work revolves around helping individuals, groups and organizations discover their Dhamma, and become “the best they can be”. This aligns with my own personal saadhana. I have restated this question for my self as follows: “how can I be in touch with the well spring of my love for the world and my love for my self simultaneously”