With the spirit of Yoga Sūtra Chapter One verse 33 in mind, the cultivation of the four pillars is a practice that can support a stepping, rather than stalling, onto our mat or seat through:
Maitrī – Cultivating a feeling of friendliness towards our own attempts, let alone other’s demands, to distract ourselves.
Karuṇā – Cultivating a feeling of compassion towards our bodies and minds, whatever state we find them in.
Muditā – Cultivating a feeling of looking for the positive spot in ourselves and what we can do well and now, rather than what we can’t do well or now.
Upekṣā – Cultivating a feeling of keeping distance from the self-deprecation that can so often accompany our attempts to improve the quality of our inner life and old responses to inner tensions and memories.”
“Duḥkha is a disturbance of the mind. While sometimes the words sorrow, misery, and disease are used to define duḥkha, it is best identified as a feeling of restriction.
Somehow something deeply disturbs us and we feel restricted.
This restriction is duḥkha…….
We all aim to remove duḥkha……..
That is what Yoga is trying to do.” TKV Desikachar, Religiousness in Yoga
“Śraddhā is essential for progress, whether in Yoga or any other endeavour. It is a feeling that cannot be expressed or intellectually discussed. It, however, is a feeling that is not always uncovered in every person.
When absent or weak, it is evident through the lack of stability and focus in a person. Where present and strong, it is evident through the commitment, perseverance and enthusiasm the person exhibits.
For such a person, life is meaningful.”
– TKV Desikachar
Posted by Michele Harney, Yoga Rathgar & Dundrum – Dublin
“Initially our efforts with practice are as a Sādhana towards finding the means to unveil the experience of the percipience of Cit. Ultimately our efforts with practice are as a Yajña or oblation in gratitude for having found the means to unveil the experience of the percipience of Cit.”
Posted by Michele Harney, Yoga Rathgar & Dundrum – Dublin
“Krishnamacharya would introduce the Sūtra philosophy when students were resting during an Āsana practice, because he felt that this was the only time they had available to them.” – TKV Desikachar April 1992
“We become conditioned to certain habits or comfortable grooves. When we can’t continue in them because of change, we suffer. Even if the change is the right one and will lead to a better awareness we would rather stay in the comfortable groove even knowing it to be a negative pattern.
An example of this could be taking time to practice and the patterning of the psyche compelling us to find other activities or in-activities to fill the time. We can make a career out of finding a myriad of ways of staying too busy to make time for ourselves.”
Mark Singleton author Yoga Body, the Origins of Modern Posture Practice (Oxford University Press, 2010) in conversation with Susan Maier-Moul – The Magazine of Yoga. Mark’s “writing and teaching provide a bridge between the concerns of academia and those of practice.”
Part 1 of the conversation focuses on the difficulty with translation of Sanskrit texts, with particular reference to the Yoga Sūtra of Patañjali and how it can be influenced by the prevailing belief framework.
“Words amplify and change their meaning according to the other words around them. Phrases amplify and change their meaning according to the other phrases around them. And paragraphs change their meaning according to the other paragraphs around them. A good translation is one that is aware of these contexts within and around the text in question, and self-critical with regard to the particular choices that are available to the translator.” Read part 1 of the conversation
To begin to appreciate the depth of knowledge contained within the Yoga Sūtra requires more than mere translation of the words, it requires intelligent interpretation with the guidance of a teacher.
Yoga Sūtra I 5 The activities are fivefold and from them arise disturbance or composure.
“The mind is its own place, and in itself, can make heaven of Hell, and a hell of Heaven….” John Milton
The starting point for these deeper teachings is that all actions, including re-actions, can be a point of learning and growth even if the insight arises after the event. It is inevitable that our personal buttons, or old unhelpful and often repressed memories, will be pushed by ourselves, though we might project it onto others with such neat phrases as “look what you made me do!” Within this triggering process old patterns surface bringing with them unhelpful and defensive or aggressive attitudes which can leak into our responses. So rather than the ideal of foresight with skilful responses being in place and in readiness whatever the situation, we have the more realistic possibility of progressive levels of learning options starting with hindsight as our guide for insight.
The Yoga Sūtra’s “nearly 200 verses are arranged in a linked developmental structure over four chapters and look at the mind and its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats within a skillful or unskillful life. It’s opening chapter looks at the question of knowing the mind and acknowledging it as something we can harness to work for us towards a deeper relationship with the source of our being, that essential essence known as awareness.
The second chapter approaches the routes to start to refine a mind that is problematic and unharnessed in its potential. This is through looking at our life and our habits and introducing lifestyle shifts and personal practices which allow us to gather more skillfully the helpful aspects of the mind and be less caught in its unhelpful patterns.
The third chapter tells us that a mind that has been refined through better food and lifestyle, plus establishing an āsana and prāṇāyāma practice can be further refined and directed to subtler aspects of itself and life around us through the practice of meditation. Within the chapter are many meditational possibilities for such a mind to further refine it’s unhelpful patterns so that it works more for us and we less for it.
The fourth chapter again takes us a step further by re-minding us that the goal of Yoga is to go beyond the habits and patterns of the mind whether helpful or unhelpful. Whilst also emphasising that it is the mind itself, once refined, that is the primary tool for bringing about this shift within our relationship with our inner power or Self-resources.”
“Buried within the rich traditions of “on the mat” Yoga practice are many teachings with advice and reflections on how to live more creatively whilst off the mat so to speak.”
“According to the teachings of Yoga, the postural practices of āsana, the breathing practices of prāṇāyāma, and other seated practices of meditation or dhyānam such as chant or japam (repetition of mantra) or reflecting on subtle aspects of attitudes or natural phenomena, sit within a framework of daily living and its constant dynamic of helpful actions and positive responses or unhelpful actions and negative re-actions.”