Why am I practising yogaasana anyway?

Guru in the mist

Why?

Why do I practise yogaasana anyway? When I first started practising, it was from a very physical standpoint. Now that is a very small part of my yoga. It was Ashtanga and Hatha and I wanted to sweat in some kind of pseudo-spiritual and physical fire. I know this is how a lot of people get into yogaasana. Over the years I tried many different schools of yoga and I have learned from a lot of different yoga teachers. I have met three gurus so far in my life. I have never found a yoga guru in Norway, though I recently met what I would consider being a guru of western psychology. The other two are too far away to be accessible.

And now

I have had many, many teachers. However, I learn far more about yoga from the people that I meet day-to-day than I would from a guru at this point in my life. My belief is that I have made all of my choices already. I will write more about this concept at a later date. I believe that because the future is, in the best-case scenario, uncertain. The past is simply an extremely distorted echo of an echo. All choice lies therefore in the here and now of this moment. That means that my experience right now could never be travelling back to India, or spending my time in an ashram. It is fully and courageously being in the now. Some would argue that this is Maya but that is irrelevant in this context. This is my tapas. Willing the self into being fully engaged. Right now and here.

I came upon this approach whilst working with fear. It was fascinating to me how much of my thought and action is based on fear. What I learned needs to be written up in another post at a later date.

Teaching 75 minute full practice. Tuesday, Fana. 17:00

COVID now allows for teaching again, and I’ll be starting my classes at Yoga-Huset, Fana again from this coming Tuesday at 17:00. Classes will be limited to 25 places, booking online using the mind body app. Theme for the summer semester will be integrating pranayama the themes of yoga sutra 1.20 + with asana. It’s going to be so good to see everybody again and practice together.

Tips – Book early using the app. Read the guidelines sent out by mail from Yoga-Huset.

We

We have a right to the work, but not an entitlement to the result.

Discussion topic: vairāgyābhyāṃ non-attachment or dispassion (dual form of the instrumental case of vairāgya)

Yoga sutra 12: practice and non-attachment. abhyāsa practice / vairāgyābhyāṃ non-attachment or dispassion (dual form of the instrumental case of vairāgya).

vairāgyābhyāṃ This can be interpreted to mean simply non-attachment to the result of the practice. It is also non-attachment to the habits that the mind has built up. They are integrated but also separate. I’ll discuss some of my thoughts here. Watch this space 🙂

Santosha and Tapas: niyama arm wrestling ;)

Picture of a corridor in Tibet

Santosha is the second of the Niyamas of Patanjali’s eight limbs of yoga. It roughly translates to contentment or satisfaction with the way things are. We can also look at it as not striving after worldly goods and instead focusing on what we already have. Tapas is the cultivation of strength of will and self-discipline to create change. By definition we could consider it to be opposed to santosha. On a simple level it is doing something that our minds are reluctant to do for the betterment of ourselves. When the will is diametrically opposed to something in our mind, the resulting fire will burn up our mental (and physical) impurities.  

I sometimes talk about these Niyamas during yoga classes, though probably not as much as their partner the Yamas. Those of you who know me will probably recognise that Tapas is not a problem for me. I have that one down. 🙂 This is a meandering post about my own experience with santosha, so I will be tagging this as a personal blog entry. For me it is something that I am constantly working with. I also find it quite difficult to get my head around, because it is difficult for my ego to accept.

As Swami Sri Kripalvanandaji said, ” When you pick one petal from the garland of yamas and niyamas, the entire garland will follow.”

Santosha and apathy

I find santosha incredibly difficult. I am always striving, trying to get better and trying to improve. As I mentioned earlier, it’s sister niyamatapas is much more my type of thing. Try to get me to be satisfied with where I am now and I will arm wrestle you until I can start trying to improve again. It is absolutely exhausting. If I am going to physically survive long enough to learn from this life, I feel that I need to slow this striving for self improvement. Is this something that I have in common with some of you reading this?

Something to try

Maybe we can try to relax and let the processes happen slowly. Use tapas to get things rolling and then let go of the outcome. I have heard this idea from many experienced teachers, guru and babaji. It could be a great sankalpa for my practise before I set off each day. Perhaps “I am letting go of the outcome of this practise” could really be a great way to begin. I am going to try it. This will enable me to work on santosha without falling into apathetic lethargy.

In closing

This was the subject of a long and inconclusive conversation I had with my meditation babaji in India. I could never quite get the ideas he was laying down. In the end he seemed to imply that I should just find a way to try santosha and then see how it goes.

In my daily practise I work on allowing it to become so regular, and routine that it does not require will or self-discipline to get to work. This is then both santosha and also aparigraha non-grasping, non-greedy (one of the yamas). Then I can more easily let go of the outcome.

Suffice it to say, i am still working on this one and, as long as I live for long enough, probably will be for many years to come. I do have these two tools to try – structured practise and sankalpa. I will let you know how it goes 🙂

Info on the post: I started writing this is July of this year and it was just a sketch of some ideas. In the end it took a long time to formulate my thoughts.

Santosha - a very difficult niyama.
Santosha