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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Atha, Are You Ready? Really?

 "Commitment is what transforms a promise into reality. It is the words that speak boldly of your intentions. And the actions which speak louder than the words. It is making the time when there is none. Coming through time after time after time, year after year after year. Commitment is the stuff character is made of; the power to change the face of things. It is the daily triumph of integrity over skepticism." ~Anon

Atha:  pronounced ah-tah in sanskrit is the first word in Patanjali's Yoga Sutra translates to "now".  

Sutra 1.1. Atha Yoga Anusasanam: Here, NOW is the teaching of yoga.

BUT, are you truly ready?  

As Modern Yoga Practitioners, we tend to focus mainly on Asana.  Patanjali himself only mentions the word asana four times and what is the intention of an asana practice? The goal of asana is a steady and comfortable seated posture. 

Sutra 2. 46. Sthira Sukham Asanam: A seated posture that is steady and comfortable is called asana.
Huh? That's it?

Then, Why  focus on the body at all?

The body needs to be made as  comfortable as possible to support pranayama which developed the willpower to overcome physical and mental distraction so we are able to move to higher stages of consciousness in the heart-mind. In modern times we are distracted and pulled in a million different directions and on many different paths. I believe that the many styles of asana there are to practice, reflect just in how many directions we find ourselves every day. The only thing I wish to respectfully point out regarding asana, is that the style of asana one chooses, in order to be termed yoga, should leave the individual more centered, setting the stage for self-realization. Steady. Comfortable. This is how an asana practice should feel in the body and the mind. This, however, is the challenge in our modern culture. I get it.

BUT, yoga, if committed to it,  is found at every moment of every day.

What does this even mean and how do we begin to do be this? It means that we dedicate our intentions and actions in a manner that brings our heart-mind or Chitta into a state of pure awareness, no longer clouded by external influences or negative samaskaras (samskaras are individual impressions, ideas, or actions; make up our conditioning that no longer serve us or the greater good). This takes commitment, patience, and bravery. We are constantly moving between external influences and the internal light of awareness. The goal is to practice, practice, practice, 24 hours per day in all situations. What unfolds if we do the work is the layers and layers of imperfections and untruths are washed away, leaving us with pure awareness of the world around us and BAM, our authentic self is realized. What is yoga, but self-realization. With self-realization we wash that muddy third eye, home of our perception, revealing to us a greater awareness of everything and everyone around us. With this new view, the Universe supports us in developing an environment that serves us and our healing, allowing situations and people from the past that have caused us suffering to go by the wayside, while at the same time we are able to offer forgiveness and gratitude for the lessons those experiences and people have offered us, after all, it is in pain we are moved to grow and it is because of our own pain we harm others, so even better, this is our chance to "let go" with compassion. If we are indeed ready to do the work, we must begin making changes and these aren't always easy (this is the brave part). 

As a yoga teacher, I often mention to students it is their job to do the work. If they succeed it is not because of me and if they fail, it is not because of me. After all, I'm still trying to figure it all out as I go along and just about the time I want to give up, I have to re-commit over and over again. It's a  challenging process, but the results are well worth the effort.

So, are you REALLY ready?

Be  (Breathe)
Here (Not up there, down there, back there, or over there)
Now (Not 5 years ago, not yesterday, not tomorrow, not next year, today, right NOW, this very moment)

You can keep going in the many directions everyone else tells you to, or you can STOP and go to InnerState You and Inquire Within.



Babe Nicole said...

I AM READY!! This was a great read Deanna. Exactly where I'm at on my path... Like the whole swirly thing. Thanks! Babe

Joanne said...

Well said. I am trying my best.

Anonymous said...

Commitment scares me sometimes. -Jon b.

Shelley Schanfield said...

I love this post. Found my way here through Linda's Yoga Journey by way of Carol Horton/Books on Facebook. Looking forward to more thoughtful posts, but at the moment, now, I'm just glad to have found this one.