Yoga is showing where to look for the soul – that is all. Man is taking a human body – this is a very rare opportunity. Don’t waste it. We are given a hundred years to live; one day you have the possibility to see god. If you think in this way, it is giving you good body, good nature, and health
- Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, 2001
Patanjali gives us three crucial ingredients for success in our yoga practice. The first thing he mentions is tapas, literally meaning to burn, to burn away impurities. Through tapas, one purifies the indriyas, the organs of perception, which lends itself to a greater capacity for discrimination and self-reflection.
The second aspect is svadhyaya [self-inquiry], and he says, through self-inquiry we come to recognize what he calls the ishta devata – our personal deity, our own individual connection to some aspect of the divine that we can come to know through self-inquiry. The predecessor to that is the process of purification. So it’s a process of physical purification and then mental purification through self-inquiry which ultimately leads to the realization that you have help from unseen forces. There is an energy or entity referred to as Ishvara, that universal internal teacher …..
The last part of that equation is ishvarapranidhana – literally, bowing to God or recognizing in awe and humility that there is a timeless eternal teacher working on our behalf, and that a way of connecting to that teacher is through the lineage of yoga teachers
The benefit of regular practice is the strength that comes from it ……Even Pattabhi Jois has said, minimum daily practice surya namskara A, surya namskara B, and the final three positions of the closing sequence
Can you think of a favorite story about Guruji?
Well, I don’t know if I can use this language, and I don’t know if I’ll even quote it properly, but when he was here this last trip, visitors would come to the house ….just chatting ….i remember one young lady …started talking about what was wrong with the world ….Guruji very casually said to her, “You let God take care of world, you take care your anus.” That was brilliant to me….. you take care of your mula bandha.”
Repetition of the same practice daily brings some insight into behavioral patterns, our personalities, and the workings of the mind.
….Repetition is the key. We go back to the same place over and over without expectation or judgement again and again in both the practice and in the cleansing until eventually catharsis, either subtle or dramatic, occurs as some stubborn or trapped part of us breaks free. A grief, a fear, a trauma, a secret, a sadness. Once it settles, there is clarity or lightness, a freedom of movement or a breakthrough in the practice that was not there before. The illumination and transformation inspires faith in the wisdom of the method. Days, weeks, months, years pass and slowly the mind settles and the window of perception clears.
People in India devote themselves to a certain deity and worship that deity – for example, Krishna. They see it in the form [a physical representation] and in a certain moment that form melts away and it is just a devotion to the unmanifested aspect of divinity.