Book 2 or Chapter 2 of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras are the keys to understanding Yoga in practice! This chapter is called Sadhana Pada or Portion on Practice. It is also translated as Personal Spiritual Practice (Sadhana) Chapter (Padah).
Right off the bat, I feel like these sutras will be much more practical for me to apply in my life. At a quick glance of the sutras, I can see mention of self-care practices like asana for example, to take care of the physical body. I also see mention of how to interact with the external world like being kind and non-judgmental of those around us.
Book 1 has been completely enlightening since it discusses the ultimate goal of yoga practice; meditation and transcendence of the mind by stilling the fluctuations. Though this is true, it takes a lot more energy for me to try and understand the concepts that are presented.
Sutra 2.1 – This sutra introduces us to a type of yoga practice called Kriya Yoga. Kriya Yoga is a well-rounded style of yoga practice and it is translated as the Yoga of Action. It has three components to it; Tapas, Svadhyaya and Isvara Pranidhana.
- Tapas – Meaning to heat. Tapas are a purification of the body and mind through practices that heat the body internally and create energy to clean out toxins and separate the pure from the impure. Asana is a great example of a type of practice that heats the body internally. When you move through the poses and link your breath with movement, you are generating heat in the body. I like the example of gold to understand this: The more you heat the metal, the more pure the gold will become. Pranayama or breathing exercises purify the lungs. Both asana and pranayama purify the mind to ready it for meditation, which purifies the soul. Tapas is also self-discipline. Practicing asana regularly and safely with conviction trains the mind to steady itself. This is the action of connecting the mind with the body.
- Svadhyaya – Meaning self-study. Yoga practice in action will offer you a “think tank” for you to explore yourself and all your habits; good and bad. I find out all kinds of things that are interesting about myself during my practice. It has taken a long time, but I’ve learned that I am a perfectionist and have been guilty of missing out on joy in life because I have such high standards and expectations of myself. I’ve also learned that happiness was an internal journey instead of an external journey. All the answers were within me and they had been there all along. It took a rectangular piece of plastic called a yoga mat and a string of interesting yoga poses for me to discover that but none the less, it has been one of the best discoveries in my life so far and I feel freer because of it. Hatha, another name for a type of yoga practice, brings harmony to the body and mind. I have experienced this harmony. In my journey, I’ve found that harmony is fleeting and we have to strive to keep the balance in our lives. Harmony is impermanent, but just to experience it was enough to keep me hooked on yoga.
- Isvara Pranidhana – Meaning surrender and devotion (to something higher). Traditionally it means “surrender to God.” This is another important aspect of finding balance in the body and mind. We are not outer worldly creatures. We are human and have daily struggles and pain that we must overcome. Faith is something I’ve come to accept as unattachment to results or fruits of my labor. A great example of this is wanting to do Visvamitrasana. I had been practicing the actions of attaining this pose for a long time and then found that I had injured myself very badly in the process. I’m struggling with detaching myself from the desire to fit my body into that shape. Through surrender, I choose to believe that there are higher and more important reasons other than my body type, for why I had to experience injury instead of accomplishment.
Can you see how all three of these tie in together? Kriya yoga is a wonderful way to practice self-care, discipline and the actions towards moving towards your highest form of self all while being unattached from any results or fruits of the labors. This ultimately brings harmony to mind and body.
I happened to be at the beach last weekend so, I used the example of surfing to help me understand Kriya Yoga. Say I want to surf like those I see out in the water. I make the decision to learn so I go out and buy a surfboard and wetsuit. I make a schedule for myself for when I will surf during the week. I dedicate myself to the practice and even do drill exercises to help strengthen my body. I study surfer’s techniques, read surfer magazines and find online resources that will help me learn about the weather patterns of the ocean. While surfing, I experience challenges and crash a lot. I find it hard to even stay on the board sometimes but I keep steady in my practice of “going surfing”. I accept that there are elements of surfing that I cannot control and elements that I can. I have faith in the practice and devote as much time to it as needed so that I will one day stand up and reap the benefits of all my hard work. I also accept that maybe I will never surf like Kelly Slater or some of the other pro surfers who are rippin’ it on waves in Hawaii, but if I can stand up on my board and get a few good, long rides in one day, then I will be satisfied and grateful for the experience.
You can then repeat the process by setting a new goal ☺