Have you ever noticed how even exulted meditative experiences can quickly decay into tamasic (dull) or rajasic (frantic) states of mind? This is because your predominant conditioning (vasana) consisting of millions of subconscious imprints (samskaras) does not simply go away by you thinking good thoughts or superimposing a layer of meditative experiences onto it.
Practising with devotion also means that our practice is performed with an attitude of prayer. Asana practice truly should be prayer-in-motion. Once we become aware of the fact that our life is nothing but a cosmic intelligence enacting itself through. With this awareness then we can surrender to the breath and find that the breath moves us and that we enact neither breath nor movement.
Patanjali says here that the mind waves will cease through the application of the combined means of practice and disidentification. The important word here is ‘and’, since the application of only one of the two leads into extremes of the mind. If we practise only, then we tend to develop beliefs like ‘Our practice is the only correct practice’, ‘Only Ashtanga Yoga is the correct yoga’, ‘Only Mysore style is the correct form for a yoga class’,…
The term “yoga” etymologically can be derived from two different Sanskrit roots. Each root assigns completely different meanings to the term. One of the meanings is predominantly used in the system of Vedanta, the other in the historical school of yoga, called Yoga Darshana. But which meaning is the one that the school of yoga assigns to its own name?
Not untimely for our current global situation our humble Shalabhasana teaches us about the significance of the yoga of hatred (Krodha Yoga) and the yoga of love (Bhakti Yoga). Although sharing the same destination, they couldn’t be more different in regards to the type of passage that they provide. Both these yogas are the driving forces behind the main characters in India’s three great epics and tales, the Ramayana, Mahabharata and Bhagavata Purana, which although ancient stories contain characters all too similar to contemporary ones. For those of you who savor Indian myth, this is one of its spiciest legends and one of my favorites.
A student was inspired by us retreating to a live in the bush to focus on our spiritual practice. She would like to take a similar step but, finding the preparation tough, wrote the following:
“I find myself working 8am-6pm to build a strong financial foundation to retreat from this path to spend the majority of our hours on spiritual practice. However, I’m concerned I will be ‘behind’ in my spiritual practice by the time I am truly able to focus on it. In the meantime I am preoccupied with working in order to move towards enlightenment. It feels completely incongruous to what I’m trying to achieve. Grateful for your thoughts on this.”
Shanna Small from the Ashtanga Picture Project interviewed me on svadhyaya. This important term, that occurs several times in the Yoga Sutra is usually translated as ‘self-study’ but in yoga the term is narrowly defined and has important connotations.
Q: I, like many people, was told that, Svadhyaya simply meant self-study and that any studying we did of ourselves was self-study. Recently, It has come to my attention, that this is incorrect. […]