[This was first published in our newsletter in the week after the ‘Brexit’ referendum….]
This week has found many of you feeling really out of sorts. The events of the past week have left many people feeling dismayed by the climate of uncertainty and its consequences- whichever way we chose to vote the effects of the election have affected most of us quite profoundly.
It is my job to teach the teachings of Yoga and to encourage you to practice.
The Yoga Sutras provide a comprehensive description of the entire Yoga system- defining what Yoga is and how to utilise its tools. The practice of Yoga, the entire tool box-is described in the Yoga Sutras as having 8 ‘limbs’. The Yoga Sutra style of presenting information features many lists, it is widely considered that the lists are not randomly presented but a degree of prioritization appears in these lists- the first thing on the list is usually the most important.
The 8 limbs of Yoga begin with Yama- these are a set a 5 principles which encourage us to develop a clear relationship with our surroundings- start with your relationships. The first of the 5 Yama is ahimsa – this is often translated as non-violence or not causing harm. My teachers have expressed this as ‘allowing space for another to be without fear’. The second principle is truthfulness-satya.
Relationships are at the front of the list in the Yoga approach- the reason for this is explained elsewhere in the Yoga Sutras. Samyoga is the opposite of Yoga. Samyoga is a confused state in which 2 things which shouldn’t be in a relationship have become so entwined that it’s impossible to tell where one starts and the other ends- they have become totally glued together.
It is possible for us to create many samyoga connections, our ideas and opinions provide us with support that enables us to navigate our way through complex circumstance. We can very easily say to ourselves “I believe this- I am a person who agrees with things that affirm this belief” By taking this position we start to define who we are by our beliefs and create a filter through which we view the world- a tinted lens if you will, that then begins to colour how we see things. The human race is capable of creating millions of beliefs and ideas so the possibilities for points of view is almost infinite. According to the teachings of Yoga none of these constitute truth, all of them are mistakes. What you believe does not represent the truth of who are.
Your beliefs and opinions can change- the truth cannot be changed. The practice of Yoga attempts to help us to unglue ourselves – to create space for us to step back, to look behind the complex layers of ourselves to find a reconnection to something simple, something that does not change, the part of that stays stable and clear no matter how much the storm around us batters us!
My teachers have referred to this process as ‘polishing the lens’- removing the clutter from the space between ourselves and anything we feel inexorably connected to -until we can see clearly.
The other 8 limbs of Yoga all support each other- if we are in such a state of disturbance in our minds that it is impossible to use our thinking power to come up with a solution, maybe we should breathe? Maybe we should move our limbs? Maybe the route to clearing the space needs support from another Yoga tool? This is why for the most part moving and breathing are great routes into Yoga- no matter what you individual experiences are the feeling of being soothed by the breath as it moves through the body is pretty much universal.
So take a deep breath……