Review, Reconsider, Reflect!

Last week in our classes we reviewed asanas from many categories and also challenged our understanding and endurance in our inversions.

It’s very easy to become inspired and motivated with new and interesting poses to study.  It is definitely necessary to attempt new things to remain fresh in our efforts!  But the fragrance of the subject starts to permeate our effort with repeated investigation into things to which we have already been introduced.

We are told in Sutra 1.2 that Yoga is the stilling of the movements of consciousness.  Sutra 1.12 tells us that practice (Abhyasa) and detachment (Vairagya) are the means to get the job done.

These two pillars, this two fold approach, repeated inquiry into the movements of consciousness and the nature of those movements; coupled with a cultivated attitude of disinterest in things that obstruct our effort to still the mind, are the two fundamental essential ingredients.

Abhyasa is more than just practice.  It’s a specific type of practice, an activity that strives to understand and then still the movements of consciousness.  This implies we must be objective towards the activity of practice, always a bit removed from the subjectiveness that may come.  While practicing we are to study the mind, body and breath like impartial scientists.  

Vairagya is more than just being detached.  It is a specific type of renunciation where through will power we wean ourselves from cravings, and desires of all types, even the noble desires are checked.

Practice without the restraint of detachment for any rewards, can become too emotional, too prideful or dejected, like a scientist that is so invested in a particular outcome that she misses the big discovery revealed by her experiments.

By reviewing often the poses we have already started to know we can look for what we may have missed, what sort of “attachments” we may have assigned to our work thus far, and hope to unearth even more of the subtleties of the nature of our roiling consciousness.  If we understand it well, we may be able to quiet it down and get that reported glimpse of the soul!

2 Replies to “Review, Reconsider, Reflect!”

  1. There is nothing like this practice and working your teachings into class has been so amazing for the subtle discoveries in my body, mind and soul. Becoming an ‘impartial scientist’ during practice has changed how I view my daily life as well. Combining these sutras and thoughts together in a way I have not previously discovered is most certainly a challenge, but one I am up for! “Weaning myself from cravings and desires of all types…” is beautiful. So easy to be attached to what we can and cannot do in a pose, or simply crave certain poses. The discovery from that one little tweak ~or if Laurie is adjusting that large one:) and the room it makes in the body for the heart mind and soul…is simply put Beautifully breathtaking! Deep Gratitude!

  2. Laurie, this strikes a chord with my understanding of what causes emotional suffering. Whenever I dig deeper and try to understand my emotional discomfort, more often than not, it is my subconscious attachment to something material or subjectivity. For instance, if I feel very angry towards someone who is being too prideful of his possessions, it is because I covet those possessions. If I can subdue my own covetousness, then I would only smile and let go of the other person’s attitude. However, I feel this subduing (vairagya) can be very dry and hard to accomplish unless I realize this: “The empty space created by relinquishing unnecessary desires, with time and practice (abhyasa) has a chance to get filled with real joy and playfulness”.

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