In 400 C.E. Patanjali began his Yoga Sutras with the words, “And now yoga.” The casual reader will just skim this, as we tend to do with most things in life… not approaching it with a deep sense of awareness and stillness, thereby completely missing the inherent wisdom and insight.
“And now yoga” is a clue into how to make the practice effective and potent. It means that when we sit to do yoga, that time is timeless. That space is sacred. Yoga is to be approached with reverence and intent, without distraction. The more focused the mind, with full and intense intention in the practice, the more yoga’s potential is realized.
Contrast that with how yoga is practiced in countless studios worldwide – squeezed between busy modern schedules, infused with music, accentuated with the ego mind. That yoga is great as purely a physical exercise but there is little spiritual about it. The spiritual aspects of yoga are achieved when the mind is still, the senses silent, in the realm of pure consciousness where the illusions of time and space evaporate.
In the eternal now, as you apply the body to achieve a particular asana, while there is strain, there is no stress. Holding the asana seems to create a space between the straining body and the conscious observer – it somehow confirms what sages have said for millennia – that you are not the body, nor the mind. For those struggling, Yoga is a stage for intense self-inquiry as well: Who is identifying with the pain? Who wants the session to end already so I can run over to Starbucks? Who is this I?
Yoga is not about postures – a circus performer can twist her body better than any yoga practitioner. The postures are but one small aspect of yoga. The word “yog” means union. A yogi aspires to dissolve into Oneness. If you experience everything around you as yourself, then you are in yoga.
To quote the Indian sage Sadhguru, “If you still believe that by getting married, or unmarried, your life will become fulfilled, not yet time for yoga. If you believe if you get some money or wealth, your life is settled, not yet time for yoga. If you believe if you build a new home or buy a new car, life will be fulfilled, not yet time for yoga. If you know all these things make some convenience happen in our life but doesn’t really transform us in any way, if you understand this one thing, And Now Yoga.”
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