Yama Niyama Asana Pranayama Pratyahara Dharana Dhyana Samadhi.
In English (my translation): Be a good person, take care of your Self, be aware of your posture, control your energy, withdraw from your external senses, concentrate, meditate, allow total integration.
These are the steps on the path, outlined in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, to enlightenment.
I have talked about the Yamas and Niyamas a little bit, the whole world is obsessed with posture, albeit not always healthy posture, meditation is gaining popularity, and the other steps are pretty much forgotten.
There are many reasons for this. It’s hard to teach the Yamas and Niyamas unless you’re ready for a self-help course with a philosophy book as a reading requirement. Sense withdrawal is the nicer way of saying sensory deprivation and that is being sold the same way tanning is sold these days. Concentration sounds boring, even though we all know it’s necessary and we could probably use it more then ever what with all the distractions of the internet. Total integration is admittedly optimistic, unrealistic, and metaphysical sounding all at the same time, so I get why people stay away.
As one of the most beautiful flowers in the world, the lotus stands for enlightenment and self-awareness. It has its roots in the mud, at the bottom of streams and ponds, but rises to blossom above the water without becoming wet or tainted by the mire below. It symbolically represents being fully grounded in our truths, yet aspiring past suffering and negativity towards our truest forms.
Sukhasana, or easy pose, or cross-legged sitting, is one of the fundamental poses I teach in my beginner’s courses. I usually make some remark about how the title ‘easy pose’ used to piss me off because it’s not necessarily an easy pose. For me as a beginner it was hard, uncomfortable, and eventually painful to sit cross-legged on the ground. But I think, in a way, I’ve been missing the point.
Are we working out? Or are we working in?
When I was asked what I’d like to see in a yoga magazine, I said without hesitation: Reality.