What is yoga really? pt 2.
In review from part one…….
Practice of the limbs of Yoga destroys unreal cognition and leads to discriminative knowledge. Yoga Bhasya 1.28.
This is also what Patanjali yoga sutras states.
I use this text because they are the most popular form of what people think they are doing that they call yoga. I have polled Yoga teachers as to where does “their” yoga come from and unanimously, except for kundalini yoga teachers, all of them have stated about the yoga sutras being the basis for “their” yoga.
So lets continue.
Discriminative knowledge, which distinguishes between materiality and Self nature as consciousness, is essential for liberation. Discriminative knowledge is a higher form of knowledge than ordinary discursive knowledge. Transcending the human condition and appropriating another way of being. Notice that it is not to maintain the human condition and play and create and manifest within it.
Is this way of being in anyway connected into fitting into the culture of personality and popularity, being a celeb yoga teacher and having people like you? Since every yoga teacher out there has their fan club that will tell them what a good job and a good teacher they are, but what is being taught???? And who is a student to judge if they are a good teacher or if they have any quality knowledge?
Misery, according to the Yoga sutras is to be prevented
-Yoga Sutra 2.16.
The cause of misery is the conjunction of the Seer and the Seen
-Yoga Sutra 2.17.
This is also what IS Yoga.
This liberation, called kaivalya, is achieved with the individual purusha’s recognition of its Self nature as consciousness, wholly independent of prakrti and all its material evolutes, including the human mind and body, and everything else in the manifest universe. Prakriti is the action principle, the feminine, the creating or manifestation. Purusha is the witness, and passive.
Ignorance is the source of bondage, liberation requires right knowledge. The importance of knowledge is not limited to problems of epistemology, for in Yoga, knowledge, higher or discriminative knowledge, is itself the remedy for the human condition. Correct judgment which is the production of right knowledge, and incorrect judgment which is the product of wrong knowledge, along with the other mental processes or vrttis, literally turnings is vrt….to turn, are to be stopped by a series of preliminary and meditative practices.
-Yoga Sutra 1.2
Nirodha, the stopping of those vrttis root word rudh or to stop, to obstruct embodies Yoga.
In nirodha, the Seer is established in its own essential and fundamental nature
-Yoga Sutra 1.3
When not in Self, the Seer identifies only as the vrttis
-Yoga Sutra 1.4
Where is this all in a yoga class based in asana and working out?
Some say that it is in asana and they make all kinds of meanings out of their asana practice. It did this for me, it got me over that, etc. But is this not just more Vrttis? Is this not more of the mind stuff? Is it not a western psychological content that is just more emotional and mental stuff being attached to and being made valuable to that person by that person? Is this yoga?
Okay, lets start over for a second. If Patanjali’s Yoga is what everyone thinks they are teaching and practicing and what makes them a yogi then where is the yama and niyama being taught?
Let me put this in a different light…….
Let’s look at a cultural perspective and what is the culture that yoga came from. This is hardly ever seen and I have not personally read any articles that speak to this.
This itself is just one peek into the culture that yoga stems from. You see we can only see thru our own perspective. Our cultural upbringing is what paints that perspective and most people do not even realize that this is there.
When put into the light of Sanatana Dharma, the yama and niyama turn into totally different things.
Taking the most obvious and one i have written about before…… brahmacharya. In the Western modern world, we see this as a model for yoga….
It is all about relationships, better sex, better relationships, and making a ton of mundane world meaning and mind stuff out of an asana practice that is based in Western exercise philosophy and Western world psychology. More on that later.
So where is the yama and niyama from the context of a culture that the males and females do not intermingle to this day? In public you will see men holding hands with men and walking down the street. From the Western mind, the question comes up, are they gay? As it has been asked to me when I have a person visiting me here from the States. Which really states volumes about different paradigm and different culture. Women too hold hands with other women as they walk down the street, but a man and a woman are not even to walk together as it is against the cultural ethics of where this culture came from…. Sanatana Dharma. The world here is not based in the external and based in desires. A man is not to look at women and avert their eyes. All of this can only be judged by ones own ethics and morals of what they have been brought up it, their own culture. Not the culture of what yoga came from. So brahmacharya, of course it is celibacy, what else could it be in a culture that is already very tight with its regulation of the external and knowledge of the dangers it poses to the senses. Which is what pratyahara is about, is it not? This is just a peek into that world. A world that Western yoga knows nothing about.
Going back to Patanjali and the limbs. So first we have the yama and niyama, which in the Western world one is only able to interpret what those mean by their own paradigm. This has left it all to be whatever someone want them to be by their own definitions. Do we not see this today everywhere in the West. Individual freedom is the motto of the Western world. That is even to the point of pushing ones values of individual freedom upon the rest of the cultures of the world without ever stopping to think what those cultures value or in other words arrogantly thinking that it knows what is best. Which we can plainly see from all that is going on in the US as well as the presidential race being the perfect example of the US in general. We are in serious trouble ethically and morally.
The next step in the angas (limbs) is asana. Now asana actually just means to sit or a seat. This I have explained in other posts. Patanjali does not get into details here but it is obviously understood in India that asana does not mean an exercise program to get your butt in shape. More than that, if we were to dissect asana from a yoga lens, we would see that western exercise is rajasik as any movement is rajasik in nature.
Next we look at prana, since this is another fundamental of yoga. Prana is not anything we want it to be. It is life force. There is derangement of it which causes disease. There is aggravation of it as well as there is depletion of it. We can also strengthen prana. Anything that takes our focus outward is by use of prana, it is how we pull the images and sensory input into us. We specially do this when we have low prana and the funny thing about this is that it is a downward cycle. The more we focus on the external the more we deplete our prana.
Prana itself is the main component of yoga. A yogi much have complete control over prana. This is stated in almost every text on yoga. Question, what does a room with rocking music do to prana? Even soft music? Mirrors? Just saying. What does the heat in those hot room yoga classes do to prana? Hmmmmm. Deranges it at the least. Other posts here have explained why. Western exercise, it deranges prana. By yogic and ayurvedic view. Prana does not exist in the world of Western exercise. To explain simply, you can just do a squat by the standard Western way of breathing out to exert and stand up and inhale to squat down. The try the opposite. That opposite, you should feel it much easier to squat and stand by using prana properly. The breath and movement go together. To do it opposite, like in a western style squat deranges prana and creates disease. All of yogasana is based in this. Not western yoga unfortunately though.
Mental activity is controlled by prana. Mental activity is dependent upon the activity of prana. By controlling prana one regulates the activity of the chitta and sense organs. It is stated that yoga only starts after the control of prana and agni.
In yoga, one remains indifferent to the internal conflicting modifications of the chitta and does not discriminate between the individual elf and the cosmic self and maintains this attitude. A yogi overcomes desires. It is stated that the fickleness of the mind, sleep, and laziness are the 3 sins of the mind that lead to the death of a yogi. The mind being free from all thoughts is absolute wisdom and the path of yoga while the path of desire due to attachment and craving is a path that there is no control over prana therefore no control of chitta. Where does all of the trying to be inspired and inspiring other of the self help Western yoga world fit into this? Making oneself inspired is only about a lack of inspiration which is a desire for things to be other than they are.
What is found in yogic texts about asana is things like:
- purification of the nadis
- the doshas of vata pitta and kapha
- kundalini, in tantric texts
- diseases mentioned with asanas that are good for removal of those diseases in a paradigm based in the same as ayurveda, not western medicine or paradigm
- there is even talk of digestion
- all the pranas, prana and apana being the most important, also the movement of prana is explained in different poses
- chakras are also explained in some texts
- and more stuff that is not within a western paradigm
But nowhere in any texts is there any focus on heart opening and other mental aberrations. No where is there anything written about:
- anything about emotions
- self help
- inspiration or inspired thought
- love, yes, even love. Aananda is mentioned but that is a state of bliss because there is not the duality of happiness (sukha) and sadness (dukha)
- overcoming challenges
- looking good or concern about one’s outward appearance or a yoga butt
- focus on physiology based in western exercise theory
but this is modern yoga. Putting pictures of oneself up on facebook doing poses. Showing the world. Sales, sales, sales. Hmmmmmmmm???? Whats going on?
When not in Self, the Seer identifies only as the vrttis
-Yoga Sutra 1.4
more to come…