The past few weeks have been full, and I've totally slipped with the blog. I guess I could've set aside a particular chunk of writing time every day and kept up with it better, but I didn't anticipate the asana portion of this challenge being so difficult for me; the postures and transitions are often quite advanced, so they require a lot of warm-up and usually several attempts. I'm modifying, I'm resting, I'm listening to my body and trying to be a good yogi. And now, I'm drinking my super mushroom coffee (medicinal, not magical) and taking the day to catch up on this blog. It's all as it should be, and I'm not even mad at myself for falling behind; I'm feeling really at peace with everything lately, just as it is. (That's probably temporary, but I'm enjoying it while it lasts.) I'm trying to soften, listen, connect, and move through it all with grace.
As we near the end of this challenge (next week), I'm finding that most of the asanas are either unfamiliar to me or out of my wheelhouse, but that is also an important lesson in moving from a place of love instead of ego.
I'll keep these next few posts relatively short and sweet as we move through the end of Book One of Patanjali's Yoga Sutras, Samādhi Pāda (Portion on Contemplation). That being said, I'm really enjoying Sri Swami Satchidananda's commentary (all translations are his as well) and I'd definitely recommend a more thorough read through it if you're interested in exploring the sutras yourself.
Sutras: 1.32 - 1.39
1.32: tat pratisedharthamekatattvaabhyasah ~
"The practice of concentration on a single subject [or the use of one technique] is the best way to prevent the obstacles and their accompaniments."
1.33: maitri karuna mudita upekshanam sukha duhka punya apunya vishayanam bhavanatah chitta prasadanam ~
"By cultivating attitudes of friendliness toward the happy, compassion for the unhappy, delight in the virtuous and disregard toward the wicked, the mind-stuff retains its undisturbed calmness."
1.34: prachchhardana vidharanabhyam va pranayama ~
"Or that calm is retained by the controlled exhalation or retention of the breath"
1.35: vishayavati va pravritti utpanna manasah sthiti nibandhani ~
"Or the concentration on subtle sense perceptions can cause steadiness of mind."
1.36: visoka va jyotismati ~
"Or by concentrating on the supreme, ever-blissful Light within."
1.37: Vitaragavisayam va cittam ~
"Or by concentrating on a great soul's mind which is totally freed from attachment to sense objects."
1.38: svapna nidra jnana alambanam va ~
"Or by concentrating on an experience had during dream or deep sleep.
1.39: Yathabhimata dhyanad va ~
"Or by meditating on anything one chooses that is elevating."
In these sutras, Patanjali is offering a number of methods of meditation and contemplation with the intention of finding and maintaining single-pointed focus. I love that Patanjali does not seem concerned with the particular path a yogi takes, as the end goal is the same, and what's important is that we stay focused on the methods that best resonate with us in our pursuit of self-awareness and transcendence of the mind.
In sutra 1.32, he emphasizes the importance of single-pointed focus, and this one resonated with me the most. In my life, I've noticed that a lack of focus generates more chaos and unease, and I think this is one of the main things that both led me to the 26&2 yoga practice, and also kept me loyal to that method and practice alone for so many years. Now that I'm teaching these group classes again and have resumed my own practice at Harvest Yoga Studio, this understanding has become even more clear; when it comes to asana, having a set sequence (like 26&2 or Ashtanga) to practice on a regular basis is an incredible tool for stilling the mind and getting closer to the true self. As the asanas become more familiar and comfortable, we have the opportunity to focus more on our breath and internal environment, which (*potentially*) offers a more meditative experience as we practice.
The following sutras offer various practices (or perhaps more accurately, objects or ideas to set your focus upon) with the same intention behind them: remove the obstacles; still the mind.
And still, if none of the above suggestions strike a chord with you, Patanjali says you can always find something else that lifts you up, and meditate on that.
My instagram page contains shorter versions of these blog posts and covers up to Day 20 of the challenge, hosted by Purple Valley Yoga and Laruga Yoga. If you follow the hashtag (#purplevalleyyogachallenge2018) on IG, you can read some different translations and thoughtful commentary from the other participants in this challenge.
You can also find all other blog posts related to the Yoga Sutras (and the yoga challenge I'm participating in this month) in the category: Exploring the Sutras