January 18, 2011

Winds of Change- A Short Sutra Study for the New Year.

Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra 1:14—”It is only when the correct practice is followed for a long time, without interruptions and with a quality of positive attitude and eagerness that it can succeed.”

In Yoga, we are offered eight limbs, several paths, styles, branches, schools of thought, and all the associated practices. Which do we choose as correct to follow for a long time?

Furthermore, if Greek philosopher Heraclitus was right when he stated, “There is nothing permanent except change,” how can we follow our chosen correct practice for a long time in this world of unplanned flux?  In Indian philosophy, the term parinamavada describes the recognition of continual change, of evolution. The only correct practice to follow for a long time is the one that embraces the fact of flux.  The fact that our path will likely be winding and forking. 

Cultivating the openness and ability to allow life to change and to go with it is the correct practice.  Setting goals and resolutions is great, but without the ability to let our goals and intentions evolve with changing circumstances, we end up building walls, becoming boxed in, stuck, and eventually unhappy and unconscious. According to T.V.K Desikachar, “When we are attentive to our actions we are not prisoners to our habits; we do not need to do something today simply because we did it yesterday.” (The Heart of Yoga: Developing a Personal Practice 6) The practices of Yoga teach us to stay present, aware, conscious, focused, and free to ride the wind.

A Chinese proverb that I always see on “best yoga quotes” lists says,

“When the winds of change blow, some people build walls and others build windmills.” 

In 2011, don’t let the wind knock you down or blow you around.  With Yoga, harness its power and let it help you fly!

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