The principles and basic teachings and philosophies of yoga are outlined in short verses called sutras.
It is important to call upon and reflect on the sutras that speak to you. Here are a few of my favorites.
1.1 Atha yoga anushasanam
Now, the teachings of yoga.
Anu- that follows, in conformity with
Shasanam – discipline, administering execution, being systematic
Patanjali is saying listen up and prepare. Long ago it took preparation just to gain access to the Yoga Sutras. The teacher determined the novice was qualified enough for instruction. Emphasizing now whispers a subtle reminder that all yoga teaching emerges from and leads us back to the timeless, ever present.
Additionally, it is a reminder that if you aren’t committed to practice don’t waste your time. Your commitment is to your guru and to follow their instructions precisely – you must commit yourself to a methodical practice that comes as second nature throughout life.
Though, times have changed with busy schedules and the internet it is still wise to remember that once, not everyone had access to these sacred insights. It’s important to show gratitude while studying any ancient text for the fact that they are still in existence today!
1.2 Yogas citta vrtti nirodhah
The restraint of the modifications of the mind-stuff is Yoga.
Citta – mind, the repository of thoughts and feelings, perceptions and cognitions
Vrtti – thought constructs; that which rotates like a wheel movement
Nirodha – ni: completely, in every aspect
rodha: confinind, restraining, not allowing to roam aimlessly
Yoga is the cessation (nirodha) of the vrttis on the field of consciousness.
Our brains are designed to create meaning, the neurons fire triggering separate actions and thus forming and leading to habits. The web of consciousness can be pictured via web but interpreted quite literally. The webs are the neurons and their synapses. Genetically, they link loosely together like a pristine cobweb.
If the spider has more time to go over that web it will get increasingly stronger. This is sometimes how OCD is formed. Luckily, similar to a web the strands can be broke. Some take medications to make the brain reroute through chemicals in the bloodstream and brain stem. Others find their pathways to yoga, meditation, and ultimately enlightenment. Meditation and contemplation are powerful tools for training and disciplining the mind. Practicing yoga becomes an entire journey to discovering the self. Most will find if they accept yoga into their lives, slowly their entire lifestyle will become conscious daily – in the way we react to circumstances, eat, act in public and behind closed doors. To attain mastery over the mind, remove those corrupting tendencies to create meanings and building that web.
Yoga is a state of union.
What happens when one is in a state of yoga?
1.3 tada drastuk svarupe vasthanam
Then the seer is established in her own true nature.
Seeing is being in yoga and you will experience the eternal awareness or bliss – according to Manorama’s interpretations of Patanjalis Yoga Sutras. When one is no tin the state of yoga- there is conformity to the vrttis.
1.4 Vrtti sarupyam itaratra
As the mind says you are, so you are free.
Whatever the state of mind is in, one feels that if the mind says that you are happy or sad, then you feel happy or sad.
1.19 bhava pratyayo videha praktri iayanam
Videhas and prakrtilaya are beings who are evolved from previous lives. They attain the highest samadhi naturally and take rebirth for the sake of supporting the world.
Videha means above the body. Praktrilaya means absorbed in energy. There are multiple ways to help in aiding yourself in meditation.
Tapas, or heat, is one of the most basic principles in niyama. Niyama means literally personal discipline – they refer to the attitude we adopt toward ourselves as we create a code for living soulfully.
Namas address our behavior with the outside world; while niyamas are more intimate, personal and inwardly noticed. Tapas has many references today and in the past; the yoga lifestyle involves disciplined use of our energy. It refers to the activity of keeping the body fit to control inner urges without outer show. Literally it means to hear the body and by doing so, to cleanse it. Hindi, Buddhists and other India based religions relied on cleansing and valued the Ganges on a holy and spiritual level.
1.21 tivra samreganam asannah
Samadhi, enlightenment, nirvana, realization of the self as nothing is near to those who are sincere in their effort and who have an intense desire to experience that.
After loads of TAPAS paired with my yoga asanas or poses, and pranayama, or breath, I was feeling cleansed and fresh in a hot springs one day. A naked yogi came over to me and said she felt that by laying in the hot water, cutting of all senses and mind interruptions she felt like nothing. She was calm while releasing this info. I smiled wise and congratulated her for reaching samadhi even for just a short time. We exchanged ‘namastes’ with joy and understanding.
1.22 Mrdu madhyadhimatratvat tatopi visesah
Samadhi success will vary depending on the degree of effort.
mrdu – mild
adhimatra – intense
Think of it as I do the hot springs – as I first entered, I didn’t think I could handle the 2nd level let alone the last in terms of TAPAS, or heat. As time progressed, I became more comfortable to let go of some of my senses – allowing others to open up. I could physically feel my pours breathing as I did.
Additionally, my joints and muscles were so relaxed. I could put energy into stretching and tending to my body in the way that it needed. By the end of my few hours in the hot springs, I was submerged into the physical and mental aspects of tapas, austerity, plainness and simplicity of style or appearance.
This was a was to detox my body and mind with the help of tapas and understanding.
Another totally different way to train your brain to releasing those cobwebs (vrtti) of negatives and positives..
Have you ever given up your mind to a Labyrinth?
Labyrinths are something many take for granted until you are truly aiming for meditative states while walking through. I always thought of Labyrinths and associated them to David Bowie and goblins raging around in a maze with many obstacles. In ways, this will always stand true. You should live your life like David Bowie and have some party animals to help you through life’s many strange and mysterious happenings. From a different perspective, I’ll refer to the Colorado Springs campus and their brick Labyrinth near Shove Chapel.
It started with me just staring at the Labyrinth. I tried to get all of the urges and sensations out of my head. After watching people long board, hacky sack, dance, and sleep, I turned to the circle brick layout with no clear path on the Labyrinth.
I walked in circles at first, my mind running all over the place – should I look down at my
feet, gaze forward?
Do I follow the different colored bricks?
My mind was entranced for a while as I went along different paths and colors. My interpretation was it was for your mind to focus on nonsensical patterns to aide in meditation. If there was a specific direction to walk or look, my mind couldn’t latch onto it. The Labyrinth helped me to learn to let go, just a bit more than I had the day before.
Yoga is union. The balanced, harmonious state of mind; bridging the different aspects of life: connecting the individual’s consciousness with supreme consciousness. The lover and beloved, the seeker and God, Shiva and Skakti, sun and moon, active and passive.