Real Yogis Do more than Just Stretch. ~ Ambria Mathew

Via elephant journal
on Sep 2, 2012
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मैत्रीकरुणामुदितोपेक्षणां सुखदुःखपुण्यापुण्यविषयाणां भावनातश्चित्तप्रसादनम्॥३३॥

 “By cultivating attitudes of friendliness toward the happy, compassion for the unhappy, delight in the virtuous, and disregard toward the wicked, the mind-stuff retains its undisturbed calm.”  ~ Yoga Sutra of Patanjali

maitri karuna mudito pekshanam sukha duhkha punya apunya vishayanam bhavanatah chitta prasadanam

In this yoga sutra, Patanjali asks us to embrace the essential principles for having a calm mind. As a yoga teacher, students should experience our friendliness. It should seem like common sense to be friendly. Patanjali is telling us if we develop traits like love (maîtr), helpfulness (karuna), friendliness (mudita) and indifference (upeshanam), we allow the positive traits to dispel the misconceptions.

Do we encounter yoga teachers or students who display an attitude of unfriendliness?

Anything is possible, as we are all human and subject to human emotion. In that case, we take the second principle of compassion for the unhappy. Let’s look beyond the surface level of the attitude or unfriendliness. Could it be stress, lack of love, family problems, self esteem? Of course, it could be many things. We only reflect the mirror we see within. Therefore, as yogis adapting this sutra into our every thought process, can help us to help other people. The reality is when you encounter someone who deliberately decides to be unfriendly to you, most likely someone did not give that individual enough love, and that hurt is how they learned to display their emotions.

Then Patanjali asks us to delight in the virtuous.

Too often people get the green eye monster, and envy the pretty or famous person, the girl or guy who can do all the yoga poses that exists, or maybe the yoga teacher who inspires more students. Does this jealousy detract from their abilities or talents? No, it only takes away from our inner peace and serenity. Rather than disturb our inner peace, let us delight in others’ happiness, success and accomplishments. When we practice yoga, when we teach yoga we should embody the precepts and principles. This is why the practice is an eight limbed practice, which should be emphasized in every opportunity because too often we get our heads caught in our “asana.”

And finally, Patanjali asks us to have disregard for the wicked.

However, when we dissect this word, upeksha,” we get the word,“up,” meaning “above” and “eksha,” meaning “see.” Therefore it is not truly indifference or disregard, but rather overlooking.

Now you might say, “But this person always talks in yoga class or they are always late for class.” Yes, they may be acting in a disrespectful way to the practice of yoga, but they are truly disrespecting themselves often due to lack of attention and affection in their formative years which gave them this ego or ahamkaram. So before we point the finger, let’s notice three fingers that point back at us.

When we want to practice yoga, we meditate on the Yoga Sutras so we can make efforts to be friendly, compassionate, delight in others happiness and overlook those who clearly are repaying karmic debts.

Let’s work together to create this vibrational energy.


 Ambria is an International Yoga & Ayurveda Teacher (ERYT). She is the founder of Zoga Yoga, a school that conducts certifications for 200Hr Yoga Teacher Trainings, Ayurveda/Yoga Courses, Reiki and soon Kids Yoga in Canada, NYC and India. She has led trainings, workshops, and been a guest instructor on Vinyasa and Ashtanga trainings worldwide. Ambria writes a popular blog here and hosts an amazing YouTube Channel here.

She is author/illustrator of the popular children’s book “The Yoga Adventures of Priya and Pooch” and continues to look for ways to inspire people to better mind-body wellness. Find her at her website here. Ambria can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.


Editor: April Hayes

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4 Responses to “Real Yogis Do more than Just Stretch. ~ Ambria Mathew”

  1. livingfrombalance says:

    This was great and perfect timing as I taught a class yesterday and there were these two women who wouldn't acknowledge or make eye contact with me when I tried to greet them.. They were almost high schoolish? coming in to class to meet a friend who is a regular.. Boasting about a wedding they had been at the night before. Normally this would have thrown me off and unsettled me for days. This article is helping me to see,,, don't take things personally,, overlook that behavior and focus on the ones who got great joy from the class!

  2. paul says:

    Thank you for this; "overlooking" is very difficult, but compassion needn't be just for other people. 🙂

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