Swadhyaya, or study of the scriptures is an essential component of Yoga. Infact Patanjali enlists Swadhyaya along with Tapas (Austerity) and Ishwara Pranidhana (devotion/surrender to Ishwara) as a core component of Kriya Yoga, or yoga for the busy householder. [Note that Asana is not included here].
Study of the Yogic scriptures makes one a better asana practitioner too because one would learn, then, to sink into the body and let go, instead of grasping to attain photo-perfect poses.
Prowess in asanas will certainly get one a sculpted body. It will certainly get one a huge social (media) following. But these were not the reasons people practiced asanas in olden days. Pattabhi Jois, in spite of his limited English, put it very elegantly in the audio clip below. Asanas were not practiced with flowery language oozing with superlatives, nor were they practiced in a rigid manner following a strict sequence. Patanjali says in Yoga Sutra 2.48 that Asanas remove the dualities (conflict) in one’s mind. It was practiced with the aim of making the body fit and settling the mind for inner contemplation.
We recently completed the study of the Yoga Sutras. We will now see an overview of the Yoga Sutras in 2 sessions, the first of which will take place on Oct.16. This is a good opportunity for anyone who is interested in learning about the Yoga Sutras but has had no prior experience. For those who have studied the Yoga Sutras, it will help cement the concepts together. Please find the details and register here. I have chosen the time so that some of our friends from Asia and Europe can also attend. My desire is that anyone who is even faintly interested in any aspect of yoga understands the big picture of Yoga, beyond asanas, that is painted in texts like the Yoga Sutras and the Bhagavad Gita.
Today we studied the last chapter of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali titled “The kaivalya padah” or the Chapter that talks about the Liberation from the cycle of Births, Deaths and Rebirths. Thanks to everyone who made it to the presentation. You can find the video, slides and mp3 here.
In a few weeks we will have the last presentation (#8 in this series) that will cover the few advanced sutras on Samadhi from Chapter 1 as well as a complete overview and recap of the Yoga Sutras.
I started the sutra study, mythology and symbolism and other presentations/workshops during the pandemic. If you would like me to do these in person at your studio, please let me know. You can contact me here. You can find the slides and recordings of the past workshops here.
Zen talks about instantaneous enlightenment. Some of the sutras contained in the first portion of the second chapter (foundation for ashtanga yoga) and the fourth chapter of the Yoga Sutras form the core of Sankhya philosophy and provide such “Aha” momemts. One of these is the Purusha Prakriti Conondrum. Read more below: https://www.yogasukshma.com`/articles-and-lecture-presentations-by-ganesh/the-purusha-prakriti-conondrum If you are interested, attend this Saturday’s presentation at 3pm PDT. More details in the link below. https://www.yogasukshma.com/articles-and-lecture-presentations-by-ganesh/sutra-study-series/kaivalya-padah
This is a gentle reminder for the presentation of the final chapter of the Yoga Sutras containing some of the most important concepts in yoga philosophy : Janma (Birth), Karma (Actions) and Moksha/Kaivalya (Liberation from the cycle of rebirths or samsara). Please note that this is a standalone chapter and even if you have not studied the yoga sutras it is fine to attend this because it covers the big picture question of why Yoga ? You can also find the slides in the link above. An in-person option is also available in Sunnyvale, CA.
There will be an online option also for this Saturday’s (Sept. 10) slide presentation of “The subtle aspects of Hatha Yoga” (11am – 1pm) due to requests. The asana portion (9am -10:30 am) will be in person only at “the yoga shala by the sea” in Carmel. I hope to see some of you there or online.
For registration and details please see here. The studio has also given me some discount codes that I can give to friends. So if you are planning to register, please ask me for the code. You can register for either or both sessions.
Fifty years ago, there was only yoga and yoga asanas- there were no trademarked names. With time, the names became fanciful and sometimes misleading. For example people associate the brand Kundalini yoga developed by Yogi Bhajan with the ecstatic states of mind similar to those experienced during intake of psychedelic substances. Others associate the system of Ashtanga Yoga popularized by Pattabhi Jois with Patanjali’s eight limbed path to liberation, whereas in reality the asanas practiced therein have very little, if any at all, to do with Pantanjali’s Ashtanga Yoga.
Nevertheless, all these schools of yoga can be lumped under a system practiced for over a thousand years called the Hatha Yoga with the word “Hatha” denoting force. The Hatha yogic texts talk in detail about the use of certain yogic techniques to indeed activate the supreme energy in all of us called the Kundalini. Though this requires a lot of practice and time to achieve, one common thing that is felt during daily practice when these yogic techniques are used is a feeling of refined pleasure that is not of the senses. This is called “Hlada” in sanskrit.