Last month we finally finished exploring the 8 Limbs of Ashtanga yoga and we discovered that the purpose of yoga is Samadhi (pure consciousness). We have talked about the aim of yoga is to discover our true nature. To discover who we truly are. When we are in this true state of pure consciousness, we say that we are in a state of yoga. So the spiritual journey one takes up when they start yoga is all about finding out who you truly are.
Yoga is a state. It is not an activity. We tend to think of ourselves as ‘doing yoga’ as we are physically moving our body or attending a yoga class so we often see yoga as an activity. In fact, it is a state of being. The Sanskrit term yoga in fact is translated to mean ‘to join’ or ‘to unite’ and so is often translated as ‘union’. So what or who are we united with? When we are in a state of yoga, we are in a state of pure consciousness, or self-realisation. We are united to the Self (often described as the Atman). And so what is the nature of the ‘Self’? Our true nature is: Sat Chit Ananda (Absolute Bliss Consciousness)
So we can comprise the Self in three elements:
Sat – translated as ‘being’ (or absolute non changing truth)
Chit – translated as ‘consciousness’
Ananda – translated as ‘bliss’ or ‘joy’
So our true nature is a state of absolute blissful consciousness. We are said to share this true nature with the divine, or God. We do not become God, however we share this divine nature with God. We are said to be all sparks of the divine, just in human form.
This state of yoga is one that is experienced and so it can be difficult to describe it in words. However some may relate to this state of oneness or unity in other experiences in life. For example, playing a game of squash – there’s the ball, racket, court, player… all together the player experiences a state of oneness. The player feels one with the ball, court and racket when playing squash and doesn’t see them as separate entities when engrossed in the game. Performers and entertainers have also described this sense of oneness when performing on stage in front of an audience where they describe their state as being one with the music or the stage.
In order to experience this state, one must practice. Yoga is not about talking about yoga. It is about doing it. Pattabhi Jois (the guru who is responsible for bringing Ashtanga yoga to the Western world) has been quoted often as saying that yoga is 99% practice and 1% theory. You can talk about yoga for 30 years; it doesn’t mean you will experience it. Pattabhi Jois encourages all to just simply practice, practice and practice. Don’t over think it, or analyse it. All will come if you practice. That has certainly been my personal experience. I just roll out my mat each morning, and do my practice. All will come. Whether I feel tired, under the weather or distracted; I just try and have no other intention, except to practice. Everything else will evolve and change. It doesn’t matter. As long as I roll out my mat each morning, I am practicing yoga – union with my true nature.
Bhur Bhuvah Svaha
Tat Savitur Varenyam
Bhargo Devasya Dhimahi
Dhiyo Yo Naha Prachodayat
The Dawning, the Day, and the Dusking
Those most excellent daughters of the Sun
The Radiant forms coming from the Gods
I meditate upon you and reach to you.
This is my offering.