Yogi Knowledge : Of Self and Universe


In our last Yoga Sutra discussion group we discussed sutras 27-29 in the Third Chapter on “yogic powers”. In these sutras it becomes clear in the various commentaries that the internal universe for the yogi corresponded directly with the external universe – the microcosm was a replica and a continuance of the macrocosm. Certain internal energetic systems of the chakras and nadis correspond with the sun, the moon, and the Pole Star bringing about knowledge of the stars, the body, and our destiny. But HOW??? How did the yogis come to this knowledge themselves, with no high powered tools or mechanisms for seeing outside their own consciousness? This is the most mind-boggling question.

No, we did not come to some enlightened answer. However, the understanding of how aware, alert, conscious, and attentive we must be to our own space, our own Self, our own actions is intense and impressive. To be merged with and integrated through samyama on our own energetic systems that are connected to universal energetic systems without barrier or ego or attachment is an experience beyond that which we could possibly imagine in this life of so many external disturbances and distractions. But to even consider a drop in that knowledge, even breaking the smallest crack in the wall we build around our spiritual existence, we might already be drawn in by that light.

We have heating and cooling systems of the body, centers of energy and vibration that connect together within and outside of the physical body we see. When we practice yoga at even the most basic level of asana (posture), I think we can all agree that these connections begin to show up. When we connect to the breath that is not something we own or even can capture for any long period time, we begin to feel the power of yoga beyond our own embodiment. So if we focus in a bit deeper, more on the subtle level of energy and vibration, cant we predict some knowledge that would be seemingly at first beyond our comprehension?

For the next many sutras, we will continue to ask this very question more on the internal level. We will look more closely at the chakra systems, the nadis that run similarly to our nervous system, and the vayus that are the “energetic winds” that connect different areas of the body to each other and are drivers to certain aspects of our physical mechanisms.

The following are the sutras we will cover in our next discussion on January 2 at 11:00am (CST). All the below translations are from Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali by BKS Iyengar:

III.30 – By smayama on the navel, the yogi acquires perfect knowledge of the disposition of the human body.

III.31 – By samyama on the pit of the throat, the yogi overcomes hunger and thirst.

III.32 – By samyama on the kurmanadi, at the pit of the throat, the yogi can make his body and mind firm and immobile as a tortoise.

When we look at the area of the navel in our bodies, we know we have “gut feelings”, our digestive area is closely related to the health of the rest of our body, and when we hold fear or protection, we might have hardness or butterflies in our stomach. At that simple level we realize such a connection to this area of the body.

And when we look at the area of the throat we might feel our ability to speak clearly, to understand our ability to take in nutrients, to find space and stability in the brain. How many of us use our tongue when we think or create, clench our teeth in stress and instability? The throat too has a lot to say about the presence of our mind and consciousness.

Are there other parts of your body that “speak” to you in yoga? Where do you sense fear or intelligence? Clarity or distraction? What poses in yoga are stabilizing or challenge your ability to stay still? Has yoga brought you a sense of “self” that might be considered the “shell” you live in? Do you retreat to that shell or use it as a weapon? Does it give you overall comfort or get in the way?

We can contemplate these and other questions when we meet for discussion in January! Discussions are free and open to all! Even if you have missed some, we always recap and try to have the discussion stand alone. Start your new year with new light on your yoga practice through the study of the Yoga Sutras, the foundation of our physical practice. We will finish out the third chapter and then go back to the beginning with Chapter I !

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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.