Internal and External Universe


Our last discussion of The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali revolved around a more integrated understanding of “strength”. The practice of yoga leads toward perfection in compassion and friendliness in all situations and toward all beings, therefore bringing the yogi a deep and embodied emotional strength. And, through the physical integration with all aspects of Nature (Prakrti) the yogi gains physical strength, grace, swiftness, etc…All of this integrated knowledge of Self from the outside in, begins to manifest in strengths and “powers” from the inside out.

We also discussed Yoga Sutra III.26 which mentions the ability of the yogi to “see concealed things”. This sutra could be looked at as a continuance of the previous ones discussing all the powers of heightened senses of perception. However, even at a deeper level, the integration with our own purusa (soul or pure consciousness) is what allows for this yogic power of “seeing” all things – subtle, concealed, or at a distance. All obstacles to seeing are removed and the light from within shines forth unobstructed.

In the upcoming sutras for our discussion on Nov 28th, we continue to see the integrated work and comparison of the external to the internal Universe. The yogis saw the body as a a microcosm of the macrocosm, the internal universe being as vast and powerful as the external one. To understand our Self at every level and layer is to come to know the Universe and the world that surrounds us more completely. The energetic centers within the body align with the energetic components of the Universe itself.

All the below translations are from Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali by BKS Iyengar:

III.27 – By samyama (integration) on the sun the yogi will have knowledge of the seven worlds, and of the seven cosmic centers in the body.

III.28 – By samyama (integration) on the moon, the yogi will know the position and system of the stars.

III.29 – By samyama (integration) on the Pole Star, the yogi knows the course of destiny.

These sutras are a reminder of how much knowledge ancient yogis acquired through internal self examination and external awareness alone. Without telescopes, microscopes, x-rays, MRI machines, etc…the yogi was able to gain knowledge of the internal body and the external world to depths that we now have all these tools to see. To contemplate the amount of concentration and practice that is needed to understand our Self and the world to this extent for me is fascinating.

Some things to ponder for discussion: SIGN UP HERE to join us on ZOOM, Nov 28th at 11:00am

  • Has yoga given you a deeper look at your energetic, emotional, and/or physical states? If so how?
  • How has your energy changed with yoga? Has your perception of the body’s “organization” or inner workings deepened?
  • The sun and the moon have different effects and roles within the Universe. Do you feel the heating or cooling of the body with yoga? The waxing and waning of awareness and attention? How do the qualities of the sun and the moon show up in your practice?
  • The Pole Star has historically been known as a navigation tool. What in particular do you feel you navigate your yoga with or through? Is there a reference point or something stable in your life that you steer with or towards?
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Jennie Williford CIYT

Jennie Williford (CIYT Level 3) is a transplant to LaCrosse via Montana, Illinois, and originally Texas. Throughout her life moves and 5 trips to India, Jennie has acquired a well-rounded and multi-faceted approach to Iyengar Yoga since her start in 1998. Jennie loves the experimental and explorative nature of yoga in accessing deeper knowledge of the Self on every level. The practice of yoga can be intense and introspective, however as practitioners we can be light-hearted and open-minded in our discipline. Jennie is intrigued by the philosophy of yoga and hopes to share this depth of subject while teaching the physical and mental benefits that come from the practice of posture.