After my morning lecture today, I felt compelled to touch on the idea of power and knowledge. When you think of the practice of yoga, do you immediately turn to the physical aspects aka asanas? Did you know that yoga is so much more than the physical practice? It is a way of life and a masterful craft that transforms your mind, body and spirit. Students who go into yoga teacher trainings leave transformed because of the knowledge bestowed upon them. For this lesson, I would like to simplify the notions of power and knowledge as seen in the Yoga Sutras. My hope is that you will realize how to utilize these values on and off the mat.
On knowledge and living a life filled with inquiry
“One of the problems of the world, sense of fundamentalism. This is not the yogic way.”
Google dictionary defines fundamentalism as a strict adherence to the basic principles of any subject or discipline.
When we attended grade school we are taught the basics: how to read and write, the difference between what was wrong and what was right, math, history, science, art… Maybe even life lessons. These were just snippet of truths, a curriculum that school districts created. It was never meant to be questioned. Looking back, I think this was done as a way to avoid overwhelming students. There is so much to learn in this life!
As one grows older, I would hope to think that we start to lead our lives with much more inquiry. Seek knowledge and seek your own truth. There are a million different commentaries and opinions and they all do not have to suit you. Conceptualize thoughts and ideas that resonate within.
Do not allow someone else to tell you that the path you are going is not the right way. How are they suppose to know what is right or wrong for you? As quoted from the Yoga Sutras- 4.15 People perceive the same object differently, as each person’s perception follows a separate path from another’s. (1)
Isvara (pure awareness) – Learn to balance power
“When we don’t know, we put up walls, but those walls do not help with our growth.”
– Maty Ezraty
Too often we feel a loss of power when we lose control or are met with rejection. Instead of fostering negative thoughts, find liberation instead. Don’t put up walls and act defeated because the most difficult obstacles to overcome give us the best opportunities to learn and grow. Through chakra clearing work, “This involves developing contact with the authentic self through the body and through its feelings and aspirations, raising self-esteem through attacking the shame demon, and creating a sense of power through meeting challenges and engaging in stimulating activities.” (3, p219)
The most effective way to balance power within is to know when enough is enough, realize when all chakra energy levels are spread evenly and embrace that inner peace that comes when. No anxiety, stress, fear, happiness. All emotions must be even keel. Happiness and sadness all in one harmony. This can be achieved by finding an activity that brings a mix of these emotions.
For me, that activity is golf. I hold memories of me and my dad playing on cold Saturday mornings. He would get me hot chocolate to warm me up. Even though he’s gone, I still have those memories to keep me going, but it still saddens me to play a round without him. The duality brings me contentment in a strange way; thus, Isvara.
3.5 The light of wisdom comes from mastery of perfect discipline. (2)
In closing, I’d like for you to take note of this quote. The word perfect is relative and depends on what your definition of perfect is. Sutra 3.6 continues with the notion that perfect discipline is achieved in stages. As we age, we grow a little bit wiser from our experiences and our studies. As the seasons of life come and go, we remember that our time in the present moment is fleeting. Where your journey ends and begins might be a little bit different from mine, but as long as you lead life with inquiry, I promise you’ll feel empowered in the most subtle of ways.
- The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali – Translated by Chip Hartranft
- Yoga Discipline of Freedom – Translated by Barbara Stoler Miller
- Easter Body Western Mind by Anodea Judith