Many of us have found that life is a many-facetted gem, with very sharp edges here and there. We know that by now, right? Only, knowing in theory is very different from experiencing in reality. For centuries people have struggled to reconcile that theoretical knowledge (don’t worry, everything is relative!) with the unruly reality. How can a little gymnastics on your yoga mat be relevant to that?
A little philosophy lesson then. The Yoga Sutras state (number II.1, if you want to look it up): ’the actions of yoga (kriya yoga) are: ardent zeal in practice (tapas), self-study and study of scriptures (svādyāya), and ‘Īśvara praṇidhāna’. The latter is literally translated as: surrender to God, the ‘higher’, the unknown, or the unknowable. The deep realisation that you can only do what you can, and that there are always things you cannot influence. A constant undercurrent of the realisation of your own smallness. And then to see the greatness in that.
On the mat, this means: performing the poses with full dedication, doing your best, (tapas). The practice will not only give your body the chance to get into optimal shape, but it will also exercise your perseverance and train your capacity to remain calm when life feels uncomfortable. Svādyāya involves learning from your experience, your teachers, and other sources of knowledge. And at the same time, you have to surrender to the knowledge that you can’t control everything, and that your effort and the ‘reward’ don’t always have a linear relationship.
Thinking about this threefold format may help you maintain the balance between hard work, self-reflection, and surrender in difficult situations. Don’t be lazy and think that you can leave everything to ’the higher powers’. Realise that a reward doesn’t come naturally, despite your best efforts. Know that knowledge and wisdom alone are not the key to peace of mind, but that both ‘action’ – get moving – and letting go of your preconceived ideas also contribute. Don’t make yourself feel guilty if things don’t go the way you planned or hoped. Those kinds of things are the acts of yoga. Practicing them when things are going well in your life will hopefully help you through bad times.
And how beautiful is it to be able to view all those facets of life together with others? We are happy with our small community, in which both joys and sorrows are shared. For more joys and sorrows, see also our September newsletter.