Did you get that? Can you make that shift in perspective?
Ethical yoga is a process aimed at changing the dominant culture of MIND. Awareness is cultured toward freedom. Freedom from a mindset that keeps us in the rat wheel of 'everything either being good or bad, right or wrong, something to be desired or something to fear.' A yoga practice is not meant to be a process of just tidying and renovating our personal prison cell (mindset). Yoga is meant to bust us out of the prison of self-doubt and delusion that binds us to unhappiness.
For yoga to function as a practice of liberation, our learning context trains us to examine our attitudes. Whilst we are working in postures we must learn to watch our mind for the judgements: the manifestation of desires and the leering mind of fear and shame.. (in yoga these judgements are studied as vrttis and kleshas) and they manifest in all of us.
When we can witness the characteristics of mind (fluctuations or vrttis), and shift the intention of practice to make these ‘fluctuations’ 'objects' rather than ornaments; at that point, our yoga practice changes us. The mental forces that bind us to unhappiness are weakened. Fears and desires, delusions and imaginations, are no longer dictators and back seat drivers in our lives. We stand in the power of our own presence and act from a place of inner wisdom. We create space for our Self.
When our mind set is toward the body as an ornament, we tend to engage with it in ways that glorify performance. Actions inherently serve no practical purpose. Whereas when we engage with the body as an instrument, we are concerned with the capacity of the instrument to harmonize within its context or circumstance. We understand that what is being expressed through the body is in fact the Self. Within nature, there is an eternal expression of wisdom. Our manifest nature; our body and small mind self, act as a playground where a yogi learns to relate to the eternal wisdom. We play with gravity, relational forces, anchors, extension, space. We develop concentration and accuracy of perception. Practice trains the mind in concentration and becomes the gateway to meditation.
If you are interested to learn and practice yoga that relates to the body as an instrument rather than an ornament, then join one of our introductory courses starting soon.
Recently I have the privilege of welcoming Russell into the teaching body of the school. Day to day, week to week over the last 5 years I have watched and walked alongside him. Yoga as pilgrimage is the phrase that comes to mind. When we go in search of new or expanded meaning about ourselves, or a higher good - through experience - the journey is called a pilgrimage. When we learn the practice of yoga as pilgrimage it is a journey of encountering powerlessness and at the same time inner strength, confidence and great clarity and purpose.
“As soon as there is stopping, there is happiness. There is peace. When we stop like that, it looks as if nothing is happening, but in fact everything is happening. You are deeply established in the present moment, and you touch your cosmic body. You touch eternity. There is no more restlessness, no more seeking.” Thich Nhat Hanh
Until you experience it, you can’t believe that pressing into your feet in dog pose can affect your mind – in a calming way!