The Yoga Place is now officially online, so I guess you could say we are “live” as of this week. But, as students of yoga, we also are trying to find ways, especially now, to live in yoga more fully than just our class or classes during the week. Yoga is a gift and a practice of understanding the world around us and inside of us. Our hope of offering The Yoga Sutra discussion group is for that deeper dive into the subject of YOU.
We met online yesterday with our second meeting and discussion, starting the second chapter of The Yoga Sutras with the first 3 sutras in that chapter. We began our discussion of what it means to be actively living the path of yoga and the balance we need to find between the three aspects of Kriya Yoga (the yoga of action) – disciplined practice, self study, and surrender to an Ultimate Ideal or higher power. We all have a tendency or “path of yoga” (marga) we might follow more easily within this practice, but Kriya Yoga calls for a balance and discovery of even those things that might not come as naturally. What aspect do you find more natural? And what aspect can you nurture more?
- TAPAS – disciplined practice, or burning zeal, also is translated as “austerity” or stripping away the extras of life to get to the actual necessities. Yes, during this time while we are hunkering down, it is important to keep energy and discipline (tapas) behind your physical practice, but we all are finding that we might be forced to see what excess we are carrying in life and asking ourselves “what is absolutely necessary?”. Tapas is representative of the Karma Yogi or one who lives their yoga most naturally through active service.
- SVADHYAYA – Self study or study of scripture is a reflective look at ones being from outside in and inside out. As we are given time away from our usual habits and schedules, it could be a very abrupt experience with our own actions and reactions within the confines of a smaller space and with the people we hold closest to us. If you can find moments to learn through reflection and not only continue getting caught up in all the chaos, this time will serve you more completely. The Jnana Yogi uses the acquisition of knowledge and reason more readily on their path of yoga.
- ISVARA PRANIDHANA – in those times where the above two aspects are still not enough to bring clarity or diminish mental disruption, it is helpful to be able to give up our need to control all aspects of life. After we have acted and reflected, we must also learn to surrender the results. We all have an “ideal” of either a deity or our own being – this is Isvara. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali in Chapter one, Sutra numbers 23-29 cover the “qualities” of this Isvara. When things are too overwhelming and you feel completely out of control, it helps to know that you have done what you can and now must give up the rest. Who or what are you giving that up to? That is your personal quest. A Bhakti Yogi lives life through pure devotion, giving ALL things and actions up to this desired deity.
Yoga Sutra II.2 says that choosing this balanced path of action (Kriya Yoga) will diminish the effects of our unavoidable afflictions. And for me, it is helpful to know that Patanjali has acknowledged that there are afflictions and that it is normal to be affected by them, but we must come to understand their presence in our experience and ultimately eradicate their disturbance of our consciousness (Sutra I.2 yogah citta vrtti nirodha). These afflictions (Klesas) are listed below and in Sutra II.3. In the coming months and Sutras we will delve more deeply into each one.
- AVIDYA – spiritual ignorance, or our forgetting of who we really are (purusa) and seeing only that which is outside (prakrti) our True Self
- ASMITA – egoism, or our attachment to all that we think we are that is ever-changing
- RAGA – drawn only to that which is pleasurable
- DVESA – avoiding painful or unpleasant experiences
- ABHINIVESA – fear of death or love of life
No matter what afflictions you might be experiencing now or in the future, yoga is here to help. And during this time in particular, The Yoga Place wants you to know that we are working hard to give you some continuity of practice. Check the website for all the offerings online!