Yoga is more than physical exercise; it has a meditative and spiritual core. It is a system of philosophy and practice to yoke the mortal self to its divine nature of pure consciousness. It is not a religion but a path to realization through physical, mental and spiritual disciplines. In our yoga practice we heat and cleanse our body, train our senses, and let go of physical and mental attachments and aversions to our body and thoughts. As we move from asana to asana, focusing on our breath and staying present in each moment, we are brought to awareness in the ecstatic edge of our experience. It turns us inward to face something harder to comprehend. It dissolves the coverings of separation and anxiety that obstruct our realization of the creative force that is ever arising from the center of our being. We learn that happiness is not attached to an outcome or circumstance but something that resides inherently within us based on our peace of mind.
When we are seeking and investigating happiness not found through external pleasures but through peace of mind it becomes evident that it is the absence of the uncomfortableness that we call suffering. Suffering ceases when we have an understanding of life in which happiness is not the gaining of anything but a functioning of our perceptions and relationship that we have towards ourselves. Guilt, blame, pride, worry, and expectations keep us bound in this psychology that our happiness is outcome driven versus the real phenomenon of our attitude. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali provide us with the tools to suppress the activities of the mind. The Bhagavad Gita gives us real-life skills to separate from contact with suffering. I am beyond thrilled to share A History of Yoga next weekend which will delve into these sage wisdoms to live a more fulfilled life off our yoga mats. Lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu.
The Bhagavad Gita, originally delivered in Sanskrit, is a sweeping saga on the epic war about the Kuru dynasty of India translated today in nearly every language. This story of a 3,000-year-old battle is considered a foundational text for the practice of yoga. But how can reading about war lead to inner peace? And what does this have to do with yoga today? The Gita serves as both an ancient story of battle and a spiritual text on the inner struggle for self-mastery and the attainment of happiness through yoga.
The Bhagavad Gita takes place as a dialogue between Prince Arjuna and Sri Krishna who is disguised as his chariot driver, friend and council. The story opens with a scene on the battlefield with Arjuna asking Krishna for guidance. Knowing that by engaging in this war family members and friends will be lost on both sides of the battle line, Arjuna is faced with a personal and ethical crisis. The resulting conversation between Arjuna and Krishna develops into a discourse on the nature of the soul, the purpose of one’s life, and the threefold path of yoga. Scores of philosophers have likened the battlefield of Kurukshetra to the battleground that lies within each of us. Though Arjuna’s conversation with Krishna is deeply personal, it touches on topics of concern to people everywhere that continue to trouble us today.
For students of yoga, the Gita brings to life its foundational principles and methods: discernment, equanimity and non-attachment. By incorporating the yogic philosophies within his responses to Arjuna’s dilemma, Krishna patiently and eloquently teaches Arjuna how to apply them to his life to relieve him from his suffering and to attain eternal happiness. Through hearing Krishna’s examples and allegories, we too learn how to further understand and apply these teachings to our daily lives. With every age, the important words will carry new and expanding meanings but its central teaching will never vary. Join me Friday, June 1st at 6:30pm for An Introduction to the Bhagavad Gita in which we will dive into this deep well which reveals the complete science of yoga and self-realization by refining our understanding and practice of the tools of yoga.