Have you ever asked yourself why you are practicing Yoga? The answer for each one of us might be very different. Some for peace of mind, some for a healthy body and yet others for completely different reasons. Even though every answer is equally legit there is a "bigger" reason why we practice Yoga and it's all about the Self. Hence we say Yoga is the science of the Self or the mind. In the Yoga Sutras it explains it as follows: Yoga chitta vritti nirodha which BKS Iyengar translates as: Yoga is the cessation of the fluctuation of the MIND. So what does this mean especially when you are practicing Asana, how is that the science of the mind?
First of all let's look at the mind in it's simplest form: it basically has Likes & Dislikes and throughout life it will try everything to favour the likes and get rid of the dislikes. According to most Eastern philosophy this is where are struggles come from. Instead of being ok with whatever reality unfolds, we try to change it, control it and a lot of times fight against it.
With Yoga instead of fighting against it we practice to create a mind that is ok with whatever reality brings.
So how do we do that?
Well let's take a step back, when we talk about Yoga we mean Yoga in all it's forms and with all it's expressions which are many so I will leave this for another time to explain. Let's for now use Asana, Meditation & Mantras as most of us are familiar with these. Instead of saying that for instance Asana IS Yoga, it's much better to say Asana is a tool of Yoga. Asana is used as a tool to stop the mind chatter. Another example is breath meditation: you sit 15minutes in the morning and all you do is focus on your breath, your mind is still there (lucky for you!) but instead of the mind going of somewhere, you give the mind a task to stay focused in the present moment. When doing breath meditation, you are watching the breath and not the disturbed mind.
Is it that simple? Yes it is!
All though it does take continued practice.
A Yogi looks at the breath, the body, alignment: here you are not fighting against reality instead You give the mind a job to just be here with whatever comes.
Not going a long with what do I want & what do I not want and how do I realise this, but being in peace with yourself and honouring the reality that’s unfolding in front of you.
This doesn’t mean you can’t change anything, but to change it you first will honour & respect it’s existence, come in harmony with it and from this point see what you can do about it and see if you even still want to do anything about it?
A Yogi comes into quietness within the seed of its own self, you are only able to this when ready, willing and able to letting the personal mind pass by. It’s not difficult just watch your breath, your asana or repeat a mantra instead of watching the personal mind.
This doesnt mean you don’t interact with reality, raise it, even change it, you do, but from a place of equanimity.
Everything has a nature, the nature of the world, the mind, the self. We are always studying the nature of the mind, always participating in it. Once we conduct ourselves away from that we automatically have space to instead be with the nature of the Self.
With love, Shaini
Ps if you would like to read more about this subject one of my favourite books is "the untethered soul" by Michael A. Singer. OR come and join us during one of the retreats!
"There is nothing more important to true growth than realising you are not the voice of the mind - you are the one hearing it." ~ Michael A. Singer