A Clearer Path: The Yoga Sutra, by Hilary Buckwalter Kesti
At House of the Gathering Yoga School, our curriculum is based on The Eight Limbs of Yoga from the Yoga Sutra. The Yoga Sutra was written down or codified, by a guy named Patanjali around 1,700 years ago. Maybe you are wondering, who is this guy, and what is the Yoga Sutra?
The Yoga Sutra is basically a road map. It is a pathway of knowledge, wisdom, and disciplined practice to achieve what many yoga practitioners refer to as enlightenment or Samadhi. In its simplest form the Yoga Sutra can be thought of as an instruction manual for healthy and whole living. It’s really, pretty cool.
Samadhi can seem quite esoteric or even unreachable, and yet in its truest essence, it simply means, “freedom.” And who doesn’t want more of that? Former psychologist turned Buddhist and yoga teacher, Michael Stone, refers to Samadhi in this way, “We are not concerned in yoga, with some ultimate reality. We are concerned with the way things happen in each moment…Samadhi is not a permanent achievement or final state…Samadhi is a glimpse…that one is free to be in this world without being gripped by exaggeration, craving, or rejection.”
In this quote, Stone touches on the idea that in order to experience true freedom, we must study the source of our actions, desires, choices, and suffering, moment to moment. This philosophy runs counter culture to the one many of us are taught within the framework of modern society. In the West today, we live in an externally oriented culture of materialism. We spend most of our time out there in the world monkeying around, and not very much time tending to our bodies, or being reflective. The teachers and sages of India brought the teachings of yoga to the West for this very reason, to share a practice to assist us in turning inward.
In my life as a yoga teacher, I often run into a common theme with students regarding values. Many of us say we have values that inform our lives; values that we believe in that may come from our family of origin, religion, or even society itself. Many people feel very strongly about their values, see them as guideposts, and at times, even like some kind of ultimate truth. If you ask most people they will say they value relaxation over stress, leisure time over work, people over money, family over things, and so on. And yet, this is not how many of us live. The reality of our lived experiences is often not consistent with the values that we say we hold. For me, this is where the application of the Yoga Sutra becomes relevant and necessary.
The Yoga Sutra offers a way in which to get know ourselves better at the place where mind and body meet. As we become more consistent in thought and action, our path becomes clearer. What no longer serves us begins to fall away, opening the doorway for something new to emerge. It is here where we can experience more freedom in our lives.
Interested in going deeper? Check out our 250hr Yoga Teacher Training Program. Registration is open now. Training begins April of 2018.