This week I have been captivated by a book called Yoga and the Quest for the True Self by Stephen Cope. In a chapter called ‘You Are Not Who You Appear To Be’ he quotes Amrit Desai, a ‘yoga pioneer’, who says “In yoga there is only one problem and one solution: the problem is that we’ve forgotten who we are; the solution is to remember who we are, to reidentify with the entire reality of atman (the true self/soul). We are like people walking around in a room with the lights off. We are attempting to move around and live in this room without light. So naturally we bump into things and into each other. We continually hurt ourselves and others. And we feel a sense of dissatisfaction and pain. We are deluded because we think that our fundamental dilemma is that there is something wrong with this place that we’re in. Even more painfully, we think there is something wrong with ourselves. Actually, there is nothing wrong. If we could simply turn on the lights, we would see reality more clearly.”
“With the light of vidya (knowledge) we might align our movements and our behaviour with the way things really are and we could be quite content and effective in living life with ourselves in the very same reality.” Cutting through avidya (ignorance) “is simply turning on the lights. One problem; one solution”
The author follows this with: ‘Through millennia of practice, yogis learned to reverse the process of extroversion. They discovered that they could unwind the painful misidentification, retracing the steps of the human self back through the layers of reality, from the gross, physical plane with which we now exclusively identify, to the most refined planes of pure consciousness. They mapped the process, and called it, not surprisingly, introversion (nimesha). The process of introversion required the use of practices that worked directly with both consciousness (chitta) and energy (prana), and included deep states of concentration (samadhi) as well as the refinement of energy through postures (asana) and yogic breathing (prana). This path eventually came to be called yoga.’
I’m attaching a couple of other excerpts that I enjoyed… there are so many.
I have been asked about mats again. Keen yogis want to have a decent mat at home! I have previously written about the mats that I have experience of (click links)… Cat on a Mat, Under The Mat, (about thin mat toppers) and I have a little stock of the LOVE MAT by Lāal which I describe in my Christmas present suggestions. (That email includes the beautiful Destination Karma travel mat).
There are so many new year resolution people are coming to class and it’s lovely seeing new faces. It’s such a positive time of year, but classes are filling up so book in advance. You can see class availability on my website (which I update often).
I write about these workshops in the hope that you’ll try one with me. I had absolutely no idea about workshops before my teacher training and I can’t imagine what magic I missed. Here’s what I’m doing in the near future: tonight I’m going to Triyoga Ealing at 19.45 for a silent yin + gong workshop – 2 hours of bliss. Tomorrow over to Triyoga Camden at 9.30 am for Dr Jacques Anthony Soyer + Tracy Elner breath, stillness, movement + holistic modern medicine – exploring the benefits of pranayama and qigong and combining ancient teachings with scientific developments that support the efficacy of these systems.
Yoga in the news
The Metro has: Why Fulham’s Aleksandar Mitrovic and Aboubakar Kamara were dragged apart at yoga class. How I wish I’d been teaching that class! The paper helpfully tells us: ‘Maybe it’s a good thing that the players are able to relieve their feelings in such a way during Yoga which is good for body and mind’. The Sun, on the same story, tells us that they were: ‘at each other’s throats during the relaxation session’.
Hurray for The South China Morning Post which tells us: How yoga and a vegetarian alkaline diet can help you run faster and further, and cheer you up. A runner quoted in this article says: ‘the more veggies one consumes, the more balanced one’s blood pH level, and that yoga contributes to this state from the deep breathing that oxygenates one’s system. Both conditions contribute to raising energy levels’.