March 1, 2013

Inventing Yourself with Yoga (and a Little Help from Jesus, Buddha, Einstein & Marley). ~ Sumya Anani

Photo: Ian Bothwell

Everyone on this planet has a great mission. Yoga helps us discover what our purpose is.

Yoga is the practice of understanding and realizing the Self. But what does that really mean?

Yoga taught me that all of life is thought. All the masters teach us how to train and discipline our minds. But why is that important?

We think of reality as the things we see, the things we touch. But what is reality?

Where does reality start?

It starts in our minds. What is “real” begins in our minds. This, the nature of consciousness, is the Ultimate Reality.

The invention process begins in the mind. An idea is a thought. The invisible realm (thoughts) creates the visible realm (matter). Everything you see in this world—a light post, electricity, chewing gum—began as a thought in a person’s mind.

Mind precedes matter.

Jesus taught meditation. He said, “In my father’s house, there are many mansions…As ye sow, so shall ye reap.” One interpretation of this could be that there are many states of consciousness, many thoughts, which we all carry in our minds.

As ye sow in the mind (realm of heaven), so shall ye reap in the body (realm of earth).

If you plant thoughts of jealousy, you will be jealous. If you plant thoughts of kindness and love, you will be kind and loving. If you plant tulips, you don’t get squash. You reap what you sow. The most fertile soil in the world is the soil of your consciousness.

As above, in the mind, so below, in the body.

Jesus also said, “Finally, Brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things” (Phil. 4:8). Some versions of the Bible say “dwell upon these things,” while other translations say “meditate on these things.”

Jesus understood these aspects of thought and the importance of training our minds. What we think about ultimately expands.

The Most Difficult Posture

Patanjali, the author of the Yoga Sutras, told us that the most difficult posture is the posture of our minds. The mental posture is the most important pose in yoga.

Being able to come to an awareness of what you’re thinking is the most awesome power you can ever have, because the thought level is the creative level.

Photo: Live Life Happy

Yoga is about asking yourself these vital questions: What do I dwell upon? What are the thoughts that dominate my mental landscape?

Yoga teaches us to pay attention.

“Wake up,” said Buddha.

Buddha taught meditation too. Buddha said, “We are what we think.  All that we are arises with our thoughts.  With our thoughts we create our world.”

The mind is the creator. The mind’s nature is to think. But yoga has taught me to make my practice of “just thinking” a very intentional practice.

I listened to an audiotape by Louise Hay. In it, she says that science has found that we have about 60,000 thoughts a day. Most of these thoughts include dwelling on the past: “Woe is me…what happened to me…what they did to me…I’m a victim.” If we’re not living in the past, we’re worrying about the future.

We become scientists on the yoga mat.

Watch your mind.

Observe your mind.

Study your mind.

In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna tells Arjuna that trying to control the mind is like trying to capture the wind. The mind is difficult to restrain; control is difficult to achieve.

But it’s not impossible. That is the beauty of it. Control can be achieved through the twin practices of abhyasa (practice) and vairagya (detachment).

Create Your Own Reality

The more I study yoga, the more amazed I am at this practice and how it teaches me about myself, where my mind is dwelling and how I’m creating my reality one thought at a time.

Yoga taught me that I have the responsibility to envision and create my future, no matter what happened in the past. The past is gone; it’s an illusion. All we have is now—this moment.

What patterns are you creating through your daily diet of thinking?

What kind of thoughts are you cultivating in the soil of your mind?

What are the thoughts you regularly entertain?

A good healthy thought is like a good guest in your home. You want guests to have a good time and you want them to come back.

But you want to entertain the right guests. If people come over and trash your house, break dishes and insult you and your family, you’re not going to invite them back.

We should guard our minds like we guard our homes. Train yourself not to invite unhealthy thoughts into your mind. Don’t let them wreak havoc.

Yoga continues to teach me to consciously choose thoughts of blessing, gratitude, generosity, acceptance towards myself and others, love, tolerance and abundance. These are some of the guests I want to entertain.

The Yoga Sutras begin like this: “Atha yoga anushasanam.”  “Now, the study and practice of yoga begins.”

The message of the Yoga Sutras is “choose again.” Now, this moment, you can choose again.

Each of us is an artist. Artists create. What do you want to create?


Create abundance.

Create health in your body.

Create joy.

Create generosity.

Create everything that you want in your life, for the highest good of all concerned.

Think about what you want. Focus on that.

What do you want in life? Meditate on that.

What “reality” in the world do you want to have? Dwell upon that.

What do you want to have manifest in the world? Imagine that.

Albert Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.”

Once we become aware of the thoughts that dominate our lives, we have the power to undo those thoughts that don’t serve us anymore.

In Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song,” he sang, “Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery; none but ourselves can free our minds.”

What we think about, we become.

Yoga begs the questions:

Who am I?

Why am I here?

What great destiny am I here to fulfill?

Through the practice of yoga, and the practice of clearly setting intention (sankalpa), we become who we want to be. Who we become is our choice.

Invent Yourself

You are an inventor, after all. We’re all inventing our lives, one thought at a time.

You are inventing the person you want to be, whether you want to create a physical achievement (“I am going to be a medalist in the Olympics”) or a state of mind:

I am generous.

I am thoughtful.

I am loving.

I am kind.

I am grateful.

I am forgiving.

Everyone has been given the gift of imagination. We all have unlimited potential to be, to do and to create whatever we want.

Who do you want to be?

What great thing do you want to accomplish?

How do you want to serve the world?

Everyone has a personal ministry. It’s through a mindful yoga practice, paying attention to your thoughts, that you can lay claim to your unique life. Keep your mind on this present moment. In this moment, you have the power to invent yourself.


What are you passionate about?

What excites you?

This is how you will find the places where your gifts, talents and contributions wait. Your personal ministry is waiting to be discovered.

Yoga is calling all of us to find our service to humanity and the fulfillment of our destiny.

Yoga gives us the opportunity to explore our potential and stretch beyond our self-perceived limitations. Even our limitations help us discover our full potential.

We move from contracted states of fear to expanded states of full expression of our gifts and talents. Yoga teaches us to stretch, to expand into the people we’re meant to be.

Mary Oliver asked, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

It’s time each of us became a champion of possibilities and discovered our full potential to love and serve.

Yoga is an invitation. It invites you to invent yourself. This is the beautiful and sacred practice of yoga. This is the promise of yoga.


Sumya Anani is a registered E-RYT500 yoga teacher through Yoga Alliance. She is a licensed massage therapist,  personal trainer, and college fitness instructor. She was a professional boxer from 1996-2006, winning four world championships in three weight classes. In 2010, she opened Learning2Fly ~ Aerial Fitness Training, Circus Arts, & Aerial Yoga Center in Kansas City. She has been a contributing writer for Yoga Chicago, Yoga Magazine US, and Yoga Magazine UK. A lifelong learner, she embraces yoga and movement arts with curiosity and passion. Her mission is to empower you to stretch your wings into the fullness of your own possibilities, in mind, body and spirit. Contact Sumya at www.sumya.com.

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Assistant Ed.: Jayleigh Lewis/ Ed: Lynn Hasselberger

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