SUTRA SUNDAE! SUTRA 1.4: VRTTI SARUPYAM ITARATA

TRANSLATION: Sometimes your Self seems to take the form of your mental modifications.

In the modern world, identity, individuality is everything; we fight for it. We pride ourselves on being unique. The media tells us that what we achieve and our stuff = who we are.  I go to the store and see a dress and feel like I have to have it because it is SO me! In these moments an idea about self is created in our heads. Yet, does self reside in our heads or even bodies for that matter? We don’t like to be labeled and yet we label ourSelves with our thoughts ABOUT ourselves: our careers, social positions, race, age, relationships, ideas, behaviors, tendencies, likes, dislikes… We say, I’m a doctor, I’m rich, I’m poor, I’m a father, I’m a teenager, I’m middle aged, I’m outgoing, I’m smart, I’m an amazing this, or I suck at that, my style is this… But, when we strip away all these classifications that describe us, we are left with the reality of who we are in the purest sense. This can be difficult because we live in a world that has so many distractions. Not to judge this as good or bad, it’s just the way it is. We don’t have to live on a mountain and dress like a monk in order cultivate self awareness. But, in order to connect, we do need to understand what the self IS NOT. Anything that can change is not who you are. Getting down to the essence, de-accessorizing ourselves, we begin to uncover our unshakable truth. We like to put everything into a box. We also label animals, plants, even inanimate objects. If you ask a scientist what a table is, they will tell you it is made of energy. This same energy takes different forms and we chose to identify and classify it in various ways. According to Yogi’s like Patanjali, behind everything is a universal unchanging energy or self. In this common self, nothing is ever created or destroyed. The question then becomes: if you are not who/ what you THINK you are, who are you? The way we commonly define ourselves in a sort of: this is my body that is your body way,  only serves to further isolate and distance us from each other and creates reason for conflict. Through our practice, we begin to see that we exist separate from all that is material and start to experience the unity of all things. No two people will ever have the same body or mind. But, in the self, there is a sort of sameness, oneness. Have you ever had that moment where you felt like someone read your mind? Maybe you text or call someone at the exact moment they are contacting you. This sense of being in sync with another or with the world is Yoga, union. Underneath all of these superficial dividers, there is a common thread, a universal oneness. Try for a moment to describe yourself without saying what you do, how old you are, where you are from, or what you look like. Kinda tough? What’s left is what we discover one day at a time through our committed and consistent practice of Yoga. WE do not reside in our minds or bodies, this deeper exploration is the pursuit of Yoga. So what do you think? These are of course merely my interpretations of Sri Swami Sachidananda’s interpretations. And what do I know? Wow, I used the word self a lot in this post…

February 28, 2010. yoga. Leave a comment.

SUTRA SUNDAE! Sutra 1.3. TADA DRASTUH SVARUPE VASTHANAM

TRANSLATION: Then the seer [Self] abides in his own nature.

You are not your mind or body. You are the Seer, watching your mind and body at work in front of you. Yoga expands the space between you and everything else in the physical world including: thoughts and emotions. You witness and are aware of the actions of your mind and body, but are at the same time uninvolved and separate from them. The seer, your true self, is what is behind everything else that exists. If you look into a lake to see your reflection and the lake is choppy, your image will appear distorted. In reality, your image hasn’t changed, it merely appears to be different. Only when the water is completely still, can you see the truest reflection of yourself. The same is true with your mind and self. Only when the mind is clear and free from modifications, can you see your truest self. This self, the one who sees all else, is always the same. It is everything around us that causes a distortion in our perception of ourselves. The seer just is, no matter what. It lives inside itself, is one with itself and attached to nothing else. The self is not defined or bound by anything superficial or on the outside.

February 21, 2010. yoga. Leave a comment.

SUTRA SUNDAE! Sutra 1.2: YOGAS CITTA VRTTI NIRODHAH

Translation: Yoga is the restraint of the modifications of the mind, or yoga is the cessation of the whirlings of the mind.

The entire world around us is our own projection. Things are the way we think they are. If we allow our minds to run wild, they will gladly turn our lives upside-down. Values, relationships, situations, and experiences can alter with the blink of an eye. Our assumptions about them are merely that.  Nothing outside of you makes you what you are, but our attitudes towards the outside world do. If you can learn to control your mind and the way it interacts with the world then you can do anything. Easier said than done. Our minds work out of habit and like to go back to the places that are the most comfortable. Learning to quiet your mind is kind of like training a puppy. Every time the puppy has an accident, you kindly pick the puppy up and put it outside. When the puppy does it again, you correct it again by picking it up and bringing it back to the right spot. Gently and over time, the puppy finds the spot on it’s own and has formed a new habit. Sometimes it’s more difficult than others to bring the mind back. You might be sitting in a yoga class and for example, you get a whiff of perfume from the girl next to you in class. Your mind starts to wander: why is she wearing that in class, how annoying, her boyfriend probably bought her that, I wish I had a nice perfume like that, I wish my boyfriend would get me perfume, they’re probably married, I want to get married! All  this chaos and insanity is caused by one simple external event that has taken you completely out of the moment and also created want and discomfort. Whereas before, you may have been feeling great. Now, you have allowed this event to completely alter your day and you have new expectations, which unless met, will leave you feeling unfulfilled. Satchidananda explains that these “mental modifications” are what get us into trouble. Our minds don’t just have a thought and move on, they have the thought and then continue to expand on and modify the thought beyond what is actually happening. These modifications start to really exist for us. Our minds are very very good at cross- associating one thing with another thing, which might be/ most likely is completely unrelated.  Silly minds. We create a whirling tornado of thoughts in our head and they become real. The goal is not to clear the mind of all thoughts. The goal, I think, is for our minds to be present in the moment and for our thoughts to flow in and out of us without amplification and modification. Only from this reality, can we truly have clarity about ourselves and the world around us. How many precious moments are missed because our minds are still busy creatively developing a single event that occurred a minute, an hour,  or years ago? If you could drop a pebble into still water and not make a ripple… that’s the idea…

February 14, 2010. yoga. Leave a comment.

It’s SUTRA SUNDAE with a cherry on top! Go ahead… dig in…

Every Sunday from now till however long it takes… I invite you to explore Patanjali’s YOGA SUTRA!

In the sutras, Patanjali summarizes the process and tools for self- understanding. Through study and practice “our turbulent minds can be brought to peace and exraordinary wisdom and well-being is our potential.” While, some sutras may live in you immediately, others may seem completely foreign. “As yoga study and practice develop, the message of the Sutra takes on a deeper resonance and becomes more relevant, more revealing.” (Mark Whitwell) Through your practice, the understanding of the yoga sutra will come to you in time without force or effort.

Let this serve as merely an introduction. Notice what arises in you and let it be, judgment free! With that in mind, here we go!!!

February 8, 2010. Tags: , . yoga. Leave a comment.

Sutra 1.1: ATHA YOGANUSASANAM

The SAMADHIPADAH is the first of four chapters of the YOGA SUTRA by Patanjali. This section answers the question: “what is yoga” and instructs us on how to get there, the problems we might face along the way, and the ways to overcome these obstacles. Helpful right?

Sutra 1.1: ATHA YOGANUSASANAM

Translation: Now begins the study of yoga. The “atha” is a way of saying good luck. It attaches a prayer for both a positive beginning and successful outcome of your journey.

What better time to start than the present! How long have you said: “I gotta try this yoga thing” and well… haven’t? Begin your yogalicious journey by setting a goal that you know you can achieve. Start with 15 minutes of yoga a day, everyday. Lets face it, life gets hectic. I can’t always fit a class into my schedule. But, what I can do is open up my yoga mat and put myself on it. Not sure where to start? Find a corner somewhere in your home that can become your sacred space. Mine is in my living room next to two sliding glass doors that lead out onto a small balcony. I like it because I get a little bit of natural light and if it’s nice out, I open the doors and let in a some fresh air! Ahhh…

Cat/ Cow/ Child's Pose

Open your mat and start with something simple: child’s pose, cat/ cow, downward facing dog. Choose poses that connect you with the earth, that ground you. Take this moment for yourself, no iPhone, no LOST, no Project Runway, no distractions, to check in. What do you need today? Start from this place of curiosity and awareness. If this is all you do today, wonderful. Close each practice with a moment of silent meditation. Find a comfortable seated position: sukhasana. If your lower back is rounding, sit up on a pillow or folded blanket. If your hips are a bit tight, you can also slide a pillow under each knee so that your legs can relax and you don’t feel like you are holding them up. Rest your hands on top of your thighs comfortably, palms facing upward to receive or downward to ground. Close your eyes and bring your attention to your breath: long inhale, long exhale, through the nose. Let your mind relax. Release it for a moment from the burden of thought. Be present in this new beginning. Whether it’s the first time or the 100th time you have sat, it is always a new moment and a new opportunity to discover. It’s amazing the wisdom you can receive when you stop thinking so hard! Funny how that works… So begin your journey today and let me know how it’s going!

February 7, 2010. yoga. Leave a comment.