A day of resolutions…
01 Jan 2019. Why do we reset each year? We endeavour to begin again, afresh with a desire to usually do or be something more or better. The problem is, I’m frustrated with resetting and to be honest, it’s not really day 1 for me, but day 17717! A quick calculation of my age in days just put the wind up me and I’m also a little nervous about the 1’s and 7’s and wonder if it’s auspicious or just coincidence!
Since I began studying and teaching ‘Yoga in the tradition of Krishnamacharya’, the word and world of ‘yoga’ has expanded so much for me that I often feel unworthy to say anything on the subject. What I do feel comfortable verbalising is mantra or chanting yogic texts because I am passing on what has been passed on in literal form over millennia.
There are possibly as many mantras as there are tongues in the world
However one text, writen (and chanted) in sanskrit, provides me with a lifetime of study: Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra, the oldest & most authoritative text on Yoga. Within the space of 195 aphorisms, grouped into four chapters, the entire science of yoga is clearly delineated.
An important concept from Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra has to do with the way we perceive things, and it explains why we are always getting into difficulties in life. If we know how we create such problems, we can also learn how to free ourselves from them
Tomorrow (2 Jan) I teach yoga for the first time in 2019 so today I must prepare.
At the end of my last class in 2018, I chanted the Ganapati mantra. I don’t usually chant but wanted to give the students something special to close the year, and to me, Ganesh represents that. The mantra was well received so I’ll open the year with chanting the ‘Invocation to Patanjali’ and hopefully plant a seed for the students to discover something beyond the physical.
Invocation to Patanjali
yogena cittasya padena vacam
malam sarirasya ca vaidyakena
yo pakarot tam pravaram muninam
patanjalim pranjaliranato smi
abahu purusakaram sankhacakrasi dharinam
sahaasrasirasam svetam pranamani patanjalim
srimate anantaya nagarajaya namo namah
Note: I will add a pronunciation guide later.
The Heart of Yoga
In “The Heart of Yoga, Desikachar explains that in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra, three things are recommended to help us on the path:
1. Tapas (to heat or cleanse)
Tapas is a means by which we can keep ourselves healthy and cleanse ourselves inwardly. By practicing Asana and Pranayama, the physical and breathing exercises of yoga, we are able to influence our whole system.
2. Svadhyaya (self study)
With the help of Svadhyaya, we get to know ourselves. Who are we? what are we? and What is our relationship with the world? It is not enough to keep ourselves healthy. We should know who we are and how we relate to other people.
3. Isvarapranidhana (usually interpreted as ‘love of God’)
It also means a certain quality of action. We also have to pursue our career, gain qualifications and do everything else that is part of normal life. All these things should be done as well as possible. Yet we can never be sure of the fruit of our actions so it is better to become slightly detached from our expectations and pay more attention to the actions themselves.
May your resolutions for 2019 help you on your path…