Yoga, To Yoke And Unity #04 August 28, 2017
Yoga is typically defined as “to yoke” as in to join two things together. In the western understanding of this it generally means joining mind and spirit or body, mind and spirit.
Since the Indian philosophy this is derived from does not consider mind and body to be separate to begin with, the general meaning falls to linking body-mind or prakriti, in Sanskrit with spirit or purursha.
While the word yoga may indeed mean ‘to yoke” this is not really an accurate description of what yoga is about. Yoga is defined in the Yoga Sutras as having two agendas: stabilizing states of samadhi and thinning out the kleshas or cause of afflictions, of suffering, that prohibit the first from occurring. (YS # 2.2) In other words, the practice of yoga is the means by which we may experience states of samadhi, the bringing of attention to rest in states of dynamic stillness, a unity of individual consciousness with Consciousness writ large AND the process that must happen if that is to truly come about not as a wish or fantasy but an actual living, moment by moment experience.
But it is useful to look at the definition of yoking in another way. What is it we yoke our minds to in the pursuit of these states of blissful peace and unity? What are the thoughts that arise as we practice and how do we meet them? How do we face the obstacles that are our very own patterns? Patterns of action yes, but the thoughts that arise prior to those actions, the ones that set the action in motion so quickly we don’t even know they are occurring? How do we effect the place these impulses of thoughts arise from? These are the deeper concerns of yoga and the ones that make the attenuating of the kleshas possible which in turn bring about the ever stabilized states of samadhi. How do we work on this?
Yoga is an umbrella term that means more than asana, more than poses. From the stand point of asana, we make the body strong and flexible and we use the practice to bring awareness to how we meet the obstacles that arise in bringing the pose about. This has many many benefits. Obviously we become stronger and more flexible in body but also in mind as we challenge our patterned thoughts and bring new knowledge to use in the performing of a pose. This not only brings about better balance, strength and flexibility in the body but in the mind as well.
Obstacles and how we meet them as they arise in attempting new or deeper poses then is more than becoming physically fit. In this light, it is not whether we do a pose like the picture we have in our mind but rather how we meet the doing.
Importantly though we remember that to practice yoga is not just about performing poses though they are an integral part of being in a physical body. How do we effect the impulses our thoughts arise from? We cannot merely talk ourselves into this though bringing to awareness how we talk to ourselves is part of the process.
The yoga tradition teaches us that in order to truly change the way we think we must change the thinker! The vessel in which thoughts arise from, and the place the world is taken in to, via the senses. To do this, we must effect at the root those impulses and we must refine and heighten our senses. We must render them more reflective of that space of unity, wholeness and creative potential found in states of samadhi. This is why we wish to stabilize these states so we may more and more naturally reflect the light of Consciousness that is full and whole in character in our individual consciousness as we move through the world. And this IS the result of a consistent yoga practice- asana, for we are beings of consciousness that live in a body, and daily meditation because we are beings of consciousness wishing to recover and experience the fullness of unity that is our birthright.
Bring The Light!