Why practice Yoga On and Off the mat? ... " The veil of avidya clouds our perceptions"

Yoga is...

Movement, from one point to another moving forward and the arrival at a point.

The bringing together, unifying two things.

Action, with undivided and uninterrupted attention. 

In practicing...

Yoga, something changes, like going somewhere we have never been before. The impossible becomes possible, the unattainable becomes attainable and the invisible can be seen.

We do...

Yoga to think more clearly, to feel better and to act better today than we did yesterday says Desikachar.

What is so wonderful for me in Yoga is how there is no belief system, it welcomes all beliefs and everyone to come and begin wherever they or who they are. We could say that in...

Yoga everything is real and there is no illusion, everything we see and experience is accepted.

This concept is called Satvada. Well... everything is in a state of change and flux. We won't see things tomorrow in the way that we saw things today. This is called Parinamavada. And it is thanks to Purusha, that something deep inside us that is able to see the nature and truth in all things, including the state of change, that we can begin to understand states and situations around us more clearly. Purusha itself does not change but it is also cloaked in advidya, such like our minds. Avidya is expressed through Asmita (The Ego 'I am...'), Raga (Desire to have), Dvesa (a manifestation of refusal/ feelings of hatred) and Abhinivesa (Fear of death/ a clinging to life).

Yoga practice reduces avidya by understanding.

We may not witness this dark cloud over our perception moving away from us but you may begin to feel that you are more at peace and quiet within yourself, more content and free of feelings and judgements. The centre of this contentment is Purusha.

In Kriya Yoga, there are three components known as Tapas (a process of inner cleansing to remove what we do not need), Svadhyaya (process of finding out where, who, what we are... and we do this in asana as we observe the body and breath) and Isvarapranidhana ('to yield humbly to 'god' or the universe or something greater than you' Attention to action, placing value on the quality of action and NOT on the fruits of it. You become more flexible to changes in our expectations when we are less attached to the fruits. Like anything ill to our wellbeing, we increase it by feeding it.  

Yoga starves it. it reduces attachment and retains flexibility to change.

If you visualise doing the opposite in your actions to your instincts and allow yourself to imagine the consequence, you are practicing Dhyana (Reflection). Using Dhyana you can create a quiet alertness and consideration that avoids negative actions (Duhkha). 

Yoga makes us independent and strengthens self sufficiency. 

With ease and distance from making an action immediately, by doing other things such as going for a walk, swimming, going for a tea... we make better decisions. You know that already, right? Well in yoga, this stepping away to gain perspective is known as Pratipaksa. If we dont have this we develop this Duhkha, state of mind that gives us this feeling of being restricted and limits our possibilities to act and understand. We are aiming for Sukha, the opposite state of mind that is lightness and openness. Every action that stems from Avidya leads to Duhkha. This isn't rocket science, but it is good to draw our attention to how we can use yoga on and off the mat to create more positive states of being in the world! However, even in this yoga path, we can become attached to attaining more knowledge, more change for the better and this too is Duhkha, believe it or not. Why?! Because often people are in a hurry to reach their ultimate goal, their full potential.... 

We create habits, we create patterns that are hard to separate ourselves from. To understand what is what in our actions, we need to understand the mind qualities. Tamas is a state of heaviness, a lethargy that arises in decision making and the need for action. Rajas is when the mind itself won't let you be tired or rest. It remains provoking and active, lets do this and that plays out constantly. Sattva is clarity of mind, absent of Tamas and Rajas and Duhkha can not arise in this quality of mind. Tamas and Rajas reduce space and freedom and cause limitations.

Be aware of your quality of mind - what is it? Can you reduce Duhkha and create more space? Kaivalya is that state of mind free of external concerns that cause disturbances. 

In yoga class this week, we will consider what is yoga, how we can attain more equanimity and energy to be more sattvic. We will explore some of the the bandhas (energy locks) and simple asana that helps to attain space and openness, taking our time to understand the basic steps along this journey of Yoga and You, in the World. 

Namaste folks.