You know how you go to parties sometimes & there’s someone demonstrating yoga poses?

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Photo: Andrea de Keijzer

Here’s how not to become that person:

This is how we love each other.

Line 20 of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra reads:

Sraddha (faith) virya (energy/strength) smrti (memory) samadhirpajna (integration) purvaka (something preceded by).

Continuity of practice. This is how we love each other. We fail again and again because we can’t love each other unconditionally. We slip, we fall back and forget. But because of our practice, we’re not hard on ourselves. We fail, and our failures are okay. They can also be embraced with space and curiosity.

When difficult feelings surface, perhaps you can begin to trust that your practice can take care of what is arising, of what is happening in your life. This faith (sraddha) gives you enthusiasm for this practice, though too much enthusiasm is not the best quality either.

You know how you go to parties sometimes and there’s someone demonstrating yoga poses? You don’t need to become that person. Or there’s the person who comes to the sit for the first time, and the next week they arrive with their family in tow.

Thich Nhat Hanh’s Plum Village is a retreat destination each year for a particular couple, though the woman is not keen to go. The husband says to Thich Nhat Hanh,

“My wife doesn’t like being here.”

He replies, “I can tell.”

The husband continues, “She just wants to be on a beach for her vacation.”

Thich Nhat Hanh replies, “I think you should go to the beach.”

When there’s energy and enthusiasm (virya) in your practice you can practice smrti (memory)—to remember what’s important. And together energy, enthusiasm and memory give rise to samadhi: the connective tissue of integration. These five movements are circular. All of this you can watch through your breathing and through your relations with others.

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Editor: Kate Bartolotta


About Michael Stone (Centre of Gravity)

Centre of Gravity is a thriving community of Yoga and Buddhist practitioners integrating committed formal practice and modern urban life. We offer weekly sits, text studies, yoga practice and dharma talks. Retreats, guest speakers, online courses and audio talks deepen the feel. Each week Michael Stone dishes a talk, often on primary texts by Dogen, Patanjali, and the Buddha, that are collaged with today's headlines and psychological insights to produce an engaged shape shifting dharma, at once historical, personal and political. Notes on these talks by Mike Hoolboom form the heart of this blog. Michael Stone is a yoga teacher and Buddhist teacher. He travels internationally teaching about the intersection of Yoga, Buddhism and mental health. He has written four books with Shambhala Publications on ethics, yoga's subtle body, inner/outer pilgrimmages, and the sometimes uneasy blend of social engagement and Buddhism. Please check out the website at .


5 Responses to “You know how you go to parties sometimes & there’s someone demonstrating yoga poses?”

  1. Mamaste says:

    Just intro'd on Yoga, Spirituality & I'm Not Spiritual

  2. not sure I get the point? I get the Thich Nhat Hanh story about not forcing someone to be where they don't want to be? But don't see how that relates to the other two examples?

  3. Vision_Quest2 says:

    The quality of engaged detachment is missing in all those cases: the party animal (NOT) with the poses, the beginner at meditation with the family entourage, and the tagalong wife who wants a beach vacation pleasure trip at the prominent Zen retreat …(I had been guilty of dragging my dad–this is a long time ago–to my chanting session; but practically the whole time he sat in my car and not in the practice venue) …

  4. Hunter says:

    How is demonstrating poses at a party any different than posting them in “public parties” to an anonymous crowd on social media?

  5. Alec says:

    I would add the spiritual prude who condescendingly tells us where and when is the proper place to throw down a yoga pose. Don't hide your light under a bushel, especially when, for so many of us, yoga lit the darn match.