Astanga Yoga London

Small yoga
23rd December 2014

Yoga is such a lovely sounding word and it’s small. Just two syllables. Separately they can mean coming together and going apart. The word yoga has been translated into many meanings. Patanjali says that yoga is stopping the turnings of the mind. But he starts his sutras with a seed mantra, Atha, which means now. If only we could really understand Atha we wouldn’t need the rest. Mantra means something which protects the mind. The difference between yoga and all other philosophy is yoga is discipline. Discipline is tapas, svadyaya isvara pranidhana. Self control, self study and self surrender.In the Bhagavad Gita we find Arjuna, the most disciplined warrior. But he is faced with the hardest decision in his life. Many times we are thrown into a storm, what to do? Yoga helps us do the right thing at the right time. This is Dharma, that which supports.
The first chapter of the Bhagavad Gita is called the yoga of sorrow. It’s like we have to go through turmoil to see the sun. My way of summing up the Gita is find what you are good at, do it well and do it with love.Throughout the Gita Krishna gives advice to Arjuna: it’s not what you do but the way you do it. The Gita is described as Brahma vidya and yoga shastra. Ultimate knowledge and the path of skilful action. What is this ultimate knowledge? As it says in the Mandukya Upanishad. Ayam atma brahma, this soul is the ultimate. The ultimate can also simply be said as OM. When Nachiketas in the Katha Upanishad asks Death about understanding the ultimate, Death eventually instructs him that control of the senses is yoga, but that it comes and goes. Again we are drawn back to discipline. In the story Ramayana, Rama represents soul. He shows not only great sadness but also great discipline when Sita his wife is abducted by Ravana. Sita represents mind, and Hanuman prana. When mind is lost to all-powerful ego, represented by Ravana, only Prana can help Rama recover Sita. That and the use of the mantra, used at the time of greatest need – the Aditya hriyam, the heart of the sun. Surya namaska.