Master Patanjali codified yoga for us in the Yoga Sutra, outlining short, practical steps for us to attain freedom from the whirling ups and downs of our thoughts. Patanjali teaches us that we have thoughts. However, we are not our thoughts – we are something more, something steady and unchanging beyond our thoughts that no success or failure can touch.
It is the ultimate comfort to know that every up and down we experience in our lives doesn’t define who we are, that our true Self never changes. In the second verse of the Yoga Sutra, Patanjali defines yoga for us and tells us the goal of the practice. He writes, “When the fluctuations of the mind cease, there is yoga.”
Things will happen, our thoughts will change, we will fall and we will triumph, but can we remain steady throughout it all? This is what a yoga practice teaches us, that we are not these fluctuations. Our Asana practice is like a microcosm of life; some poses are easier for us and make us feel confident, some challenge us on every level. Some days practicing feels amazing and other days, we feel like we can barely move. But we come and we practice anyway. We breathe through each pose, the ones we love and the ones we hate. We learn to get over the likes and dislikes as being 2 sides of the same coin.
Regardless of how we feel about each pose, we practice. We learn to move through our lives with the grace, steadiness and ease we cultivate on the mat. We accept the ups and downs of life as something we experience, rather than letting it define who we are. When we tap into this true, steady and unchanging self beyond the thoughts, beyond the whirling mind, we can take refuge there forever.
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