Yoga isn’t about the body. Not really.
Sutras 1.2 – 1.4 discuss the true purpose if yoga. Errors in interpretation and translation are strictly mine.
Sutra 1.2 provides the definition of yoga.
Yogas citta vritti nirodhah
Yoga is the process of learning to control the random fluctuations of the mind.
Sutra 1.3 tells what happens when we achieve that state.
Tada drastuh svarupe avasthanam
Once we have achieved that state, we are connected with our own true nature (we can see clearly).
Sutra 1.4 tells what we can expect if we don’t.
Vritti sarupyam itaratra
Otherwise, what we experience in life is a product of our own conditioning, not reality.
If that doesn’t make sense, try this Tracy translation on for size.
Yoga is the process of learning how to control our mind, so it doesn’t control us. In doing so, we finally overcome our conditioning, and we see things, including ourselves, as they truly are. Otherwise, we remain trapped in the muck of our own emotional quicksand.
Conditioning isn’t all bad. It keeps us safe. It provides the intelligence, the character, and the beauty through with we experience the world. But it also clouds us, holds us back, and feeds into feelings of jealousy, prejudice, attachment and fear.
The sutras promise that no matter what happens to us—or in the world around us, for that matter—we each have a perfect, clear core somewhere deep inside. A spirit of wisdom, kindness, compassion, truth. The tools of yoga—asana, pranayama, meditation, chant and ritual—help us peel away, layer by grimy layer, all that obscures that beautiful being inside us.
The ancients symbolized the mind as a crystal. I like to think of it more as a geode, each with its own emotional fingerprint.
The outer layers of our awareness are dark, clouded and dull. Like the rings of a tree, our inner layers vary and have been formed by influences starting when we were young. Some layers are bigger—more impactful—than others. Some layers are dark and stressful, others bright and happy. But all of us, deep in our core, possess the same inner clarity. All of us, deep in our core, know truth. All of us, deep in our core, are perfect.
Yoga helps you connect with your true self. It’s not easy. It’s often not fun. It usually has nothing to do with stretching your hamstrings. But those moments when you glimpse into that perfect, clear space? They make it all worth it.
This simple meditation practice can help you get started.
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