This post will explore Sutras 1.12, 1.13 & 1.14 (from book one, Samādhi Pāda, the portion on contemplation), coinciding with Day 5 of the Purple Valley Yoga challenge on Instagram. All translations by Sri Swami Satchidanada.
Sutra 1.12: Abhyāsa vairāgyabhyaām tannitodhah ~
"These mental modifications are restrained by practice and non-attachment."
Sutra 1.13: Tatra sthitau yatno'bhyāsah ~
"Of these two, effort toward steadiness of mind is practice."
Sutra 1.14: Sa tu dirgha kāla nairantarya satkārāsevito drdhabhūmih ~
"Practice becomes firmly grounded when well attended to for a long time, without break and in all earnestness."
These Sutras resonate with me today (and always, really). I think it goes without saying that I struggle so hard with this asana. I’m not (yet!) a daily Ashtanga yoga practitioner, and whenever this posture is queued I can feel myself immediately react. I’m not a fan of twisting, generally speaking (simply because I find it really challenging) and with my proportions and tight hips and shoulders, Parsvakonasana B is SO HARD for me, pretty much always. This photo is solid proof of my struggle - that was the best option out of 8.
While I was practicing, I kept thinking about these Sutras... it’s not the practicing I find challenging (I’m almost always observing my thoughts) - it’s the non-attachment part. I’m clearly attached to the precision of form I’m able to achieve when I become frustrated with a misaligned foot or hips that are too high or a spine that seems too stubborn to twist. I have to remind myself that it doesn’t matter how it looks: what matters is the way I speak to myself, how closely I listen, and that I remain committed to the practice of stilling my mind.
I'm always honest with my students about the off-and-on nature of my relationship with yoga in the past. It's only within the past three years that I became much more serious about the eight-limbed practice of yoga and remained committed to a daily practice. There were some solid years in there prior to this current period of consistency and "earnestness", but far too often I abandoned my yoga practice and engaged in unhealthy thoughts and behaviours the further I strayed. (But, I always came back!)
Let me just add it is in no way my intention to shame you if you don't have a daily yoga practice, and I'm certainly not suggesting you'd be a train-wreck without this sort of practice in your life; this has simply been my experience, and that's all I'm here to share with you.
The beautiful thing about this is that the practice of yoga is always there for you, whenever you're ready to receive it. For me, it's never been easy, but that only strengthens my resolve to stay committed to this way of life. I know there is always work to be done, and I'm grateful that it's so.