I started a 40 day course on mindfulness on Insight Timer, and I’ve only done the first day but I really like it. Do I need to say I failed to sit still and silently for five minutes? I’m okay with saying that I just need more guidance for now, but at least I’m on the path.
The thing I’m in love with is doing the 10 sun salutations in the morning (right now that’s 5 Sun A’s and 5 rounds of Sun C at the moment, although I’m considering modifying it) . I find so much comfort in the structure and it’s liberating to be able to move with my own breath. I can’t breathe slowly enough for the classes I’m doing, but it feels good to breathe fully in my own practice at my own pace. I used to chastise students for rushing, well intentioned obviously, but I was always like, “Tsk tsk don’t rush the movements, lift your leg with your whole inhale.” And now I’m wondering, is that just how fast they were breathing? It blows my mind how far removed I was from beginner mind, even when I thought I was being sooooo empathetic.
I’m on to the second chapter of the Sutras (although I just realized I never read Yoga Mala and I feel like I must start it immediately).
I love chapter two of the Sutras, it’s the really gritty stuff, obviously, it’s kriyayoga, the yoga of action, which is basically the power yoga of the styles world, and my dosha is like 90% fire. I’m definitely living 2.1 right now, full of burning zeal and the desire to study and surrender. In this sutra, we’re introduced to three big concepts:
“Our bodies are purified by self- discipline (tapas), our words by Self-study (svadhyaya) and our minds by love and surrender (Isvara pranidhana).” -Iyengar in Light on the Yoga Sutras
Tapas is the fire that burns out the garbage (or dross) and I’ve always been a big tapas teacher. “Svadhyaya is the repetition of sacred mantras and the study of spiritual sacred tests in order to comprehend one’s own self.” (Iyengar again). And Isvara Pranidhana “is not about what your yoga can do for you, but about approaching your practice in the spirit of offering.” Shiva Rea in this amazing Yoga Journal article about surrender.
2.2 The practice of yoga reduces afflictions and leads to samadhi
So we want to be free from pain, we want to be smarter and better and happier. To do that, we need to do something to get rid of the klesas (the mental states that cloud your mind). How do we get rid of them? The kriyayoga path of tapas, svadhyaya, and isvara pranidhana, of course! That is the vital work of yoga, that’s what we’re here for, and when we’re done, we’ll feel awesome (basically). 2.2 is really straightforward, just why we want to go down the path.
Straight from the Bhagavad Gita, here’s why we should meditate:
“When meditation is mastered,
The mind is unwavering like the
Flame of a lamp in a windless place.
In the still mind,
In the depths of meditation,
The Self reveals itself.” -Bhagavad Gita
The first day of the 40 day course I’m doing (btw it’s free on Insight Timer, which I continue to have no affiliation with but am happy to share if you want to do it with me!) they talked about this study, using smart phones they got thousands of volunteers to make notes of their thoughts, actions, and states. It turned out most of the time everyone was thinking of other things while they were doing various tasks, never focused, but the times they self reported as feeling happy were always when their mind was on the actual task at hand. That’s good enough for me! Onward.