Why are so many people attracted to the practice of yoga? Why are we so hooked to yoga once we first tried it, and why do we keep on coming back to the mat…?
Perhaps a big part of the motivation is to still the mind, or to get out of the mind, or to somehow master the mind? Perhaps yoga is so much more than just getting a hot body or becoming flexible.
To make the most of our yoga practice, we need to go to the roots: Master Patanjali is the father of modern yoga. He did not invent yoga -yoga was already there in various forms for thousands of years, but he assimilated it into a system, called the 8-limbed path of ashtanga yoga. He also wrote the yoga sutras. Yoga Sutras are the foundation and training manual for mastering the mind and achieving oneness with the universe, or Self-realization or enlightenment. Take note that of all the many sutras, there is only one that refers to the actual asana practice. This places the importance of the physical postures we practice into perspective, in the context of what yoga is really about…
The 1st sutra of the 1st chapter, “Atha yoga-anusasanam”, translates to: Now this is Yoga as I have observed it in the natural world. If we can understand on a fundamental level that yoga is about being fully present in this moment, NOW, every moment of the day, then we can pack up our mats and our work is done because we will be self-realized. However, this level of understanding and perception is no small feat.
Fortunately, Patanjali continued in the second sutra, “Yogas citta-vrtti-nirodhah”, meaning when you stop identifying with your thoughts, fluctuations of the mind, then there is yoga, identity with Self, which is Samadhi, happiness, bliss and ecstasy. This might be a bit easier to digest, but conceivably not so easy to apply. So I challenge you to observe your thoughts and the fluctuations of the mind, next time you are on your mat. Notice when you get caught up in the stories your mind tells you, without judging, and without wanting to change the content of your thoughts By practicing to dis-identify with the mind on the mat, it will be easier to do it in life off the mat.
Do I dare say that this is what yoga is all about…?