Monday, June 28, 2010
So, What's Your Neurosis
The Yoga Sutras, an ancient text written around 200 CE, acts as one of the most authoritative texts about yoga. In this book, verses (called sutras, meaning sutures) string together directional truths that give us clues about what we are looking for in the practice of yoga and how to go about finding it.
Patanjali, the author and yoga scholar who wrote the Yoga Sutras, gives us a definition of yoga right off the bat. In the second verse he states, "Yoga chitta vritti nirodha," which means "Yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind." So, yoga is stopping the mind from its endless neurotic volatility. Later in the Sutras he states that we've found the experience of yoga once our mind stops moving, once we become one with an object, be that our body, an idea, or another person, etc. Let me make a distinction: the experience of yoga may differ from the practice of yoga. We may practice getting to that place of unity by the refined and skillful means of our asana practice, connecting body and breath for a sophisticated method of listening and focusing, which brings physical health, understanding, and mental clarity-- and still only find the experience of yoga once in a while. Regardless, the practice of finding yoga is itself very centering, grounding, and worthwhile. And with regular practice, we become gradually adept at finding this place of mental stillness and focus and will learn to enjoy the experience of yoga more readily.
Be warned! The experience of yoga may come on suddenly and without any preamble or effort on your part. It may happen in a yoga class, while walking your dog, or while contemplating the meaning of life as you sit in the maddening lines at the DMV. The experience of yoga is different for everybody. For me it feels like everything makes sense, like the universe is expansive and inviting. For me it's calming bouts of real clarity and connection.
Come and practice with me! I invite you to consider your experience and practice of yoga this week. I would love to hear about times you feel you have experienced yoga. Feel free to click the facebook or blogger icon and leave your comment to this message.