tada darstuh svarupe avasthanam – “then the seer dwells in his own nature”
After telling us the purpose of Yoga (to control the fluctuations of the mind) Patanjali explains the reasons. Why would I try not to cling to those voluptuous clouds, lightly surrounding and seducing me at every moment? On the other hand, how many times these same clouds have been able to destabilize me to the point of throwing me into an unexpected storm!
According to these texts, the main reason for learning to control the fluctuations of the mind is that if we do so, then our inner seer establishes in its essence, or in its pure consciousness.
tada. Then, in that moment.
darstuh. The seer, the being, the real personality, the spirit, the soul.
svarupe. The state, the essence, the nature.
avasthanam. Is established, rests, dwells, resides, shines.
To establish oneself in the essence would mean to see clearly who we are, without identifying with our mind. Instead, to identify with everything that surrounds us.
“All our thoughts, as well as external objects, are nothing more than variations of our consciousness. Take away consciousness and nothing exists”. (Yoga Sutra of Patanjali, talks by Dr. Jayadeva Yogendra & Smt. Hansaji, The Yoga Institute).
The Yoga discipline suggests us how we can generate positive effects on our surroundings starting from ourselves, our body, our breathing, our mind. The force acquired by one propagates towards the rest through the energetic fields we are made of. In addition, the closer we are to our essence, the more we are able to offer the best of ourselves to the world, to be more creative and to offer more valuable contributions in any field of action. In other worlds, if we want to change the world we have to start from changing ourselves.
By focusing on our essence we vibrate from the purest energy. In that place we are also fully aware of our talents, and that also helps us to generate something positive around us through our actions.
The multiple meanings of avasthanam (rests, dwells, resides, shines) suggest me the idea of getting home. The most comfortable, peaceful, authentic place is also the place where we are capable to shine.
Worth trying to dispel the clouds and have even a glimpse of this wonder.
BHADRASANA / BADDHA KONASANA
BHADRA: Virtuous, pure, prudent, excellent, wise.
BADDHA: Linked, conditioned; In Yoga it refers to a tie in the pose (in this case: the interlaced hands controlling the feet).
COMMON WESTERN NAMES
Shoemaker pose, butterfly pose.
Meditative, for the joints.
If practiced correctly it can, among other things: stretch muscles and ligaments in the urogenital region, exercise knee and hip joints, increase flexibility in the lumbar area and pelvic floor (recommended for pregnant women), provide a massage to the abdominal organs, reduce pressure on the spine and sciatica, prevent hernias in the lower back, decrease constipation, stimulate the reproductive system, improve circulation in the legs, relieve tiredness accumulated in the muscles of the legs.
It trains the mental attitude of discipline (Dharma Bhava).
It expands the energetic center located in the sacrum area, Svadhisthana, related to: gonads, all the attributes related to subconscious and the beginning of psychic energy, emotions, creativity and sexual energy, the element of Water.
Recent injuries in knees or hips.
• Sit on the floor and extend your legs, making sure to keep your back straight and your shoulders aligned with your hips.
• Bend the knees, join the soles of your feet and carry them as close to the pelvis as possible.
• Make sure your sitting bones are in contact with the earth.
• Bring your chin slightly to the chest.
• With an exhalation, try to bring the knees to the floor, without forcing.
• You can help by slightly pushing your elbows towards your legs.
• You can open your feet slightly with your hands, as if they were a semi-open book.
• Breathe long and deep, stay in the pose for a minimum of one minute.
• Adopt the mental aptitude of acceptance, discipline, faith.
• With each inhalation, visualize the energy that rises up through the main channel from the pelvic floor to the top of the head.
• Bring your attention to the height of the sacrum, observe the expansion of this area, pay attention to the physical and subtle sensations that may rise.
• To get out of the pose, slowly stretch your legs to the front and place your hands on the floor next to your hips.
• Rest your legs for few seconds in this position and observe the effects.
Exhale, bring your chin close to your chest and bend your torso forward.
Make sure this movement starts from the base of the spine, so that the back remains straight, with the intention of reaching the floor with your chin or your forehead.
Do not force the deepening.
Place the elbows on the thighs or calves and slightly press them downward (never on the knees).
Breathe maintaining your pose for at least one minute.
If the complete pose is very uncomfortable to you, you can sit on a block, or move the feet away from the pelvis.
In the variation with forward bending, if the head does not reach the floor you can rest it on a pillow or a block.
yogas chitta vritti nirodha – “Yoga is the removal of the fluctuations of the mind”
The first text to define and enunciate Yoga as a philosophical doctrine is more than 2,000 years old and is attributed to an Indian sage, philosopher, physicist and grammarian named Patanjali.
The Yoga Sutras are 196 aphorisms that count more than 20,000 translations and interpretations given the incredible richness of meaning that characterizes their original language, Sanskrit. However, once a valid interpretation guide of the Sutras has been chosen (I now have in my hands Yoga Sutra of Patanjali, talks by Dr. Jayadeva Yogendra & Smt. Hansaji, The Yoga Institute) these are incredibly beautiful to read and easy to remember . It is not by chance their definition as slokas, the Sanskrit root of the English word “slogan”, implying a vast meaning in few words.
The purpose of the Sutras is to indicate the steps to reach the final state of Yoga, or Samadhi. The phrases composing them, made of few words, seem to have a life of their own, as well as their own strength and weight. They know how to pop up at the right moment once they have been recorded in our memories, like good counselors that we can count on whenever we need clarity.
With this inestimable thousand-year treasure within our reach, it is worth dedicating a little attention to this text.
Patanjali’s second Sutra covers all the meaning of practice: “Yoga is the removal of the fluctuations of the mind” or in Sanskrit yogas chitta vritti nirodha.
According to Punditji, my teacher, Patanjali wanted to start by giving us a clue as to what the goal would be, before guiding us step by step down the long road towards it (thank goodness), and Yoga is both the path and the final goal.
Why calming the fluctuations of the mind would be our goal? What does it mean to attain full consciousness?
It is proven that meditative practices produce neurobiological changes that reduce anxiety, as well as behaviors related to fear, anger, depression and negative associations; we become less unhappy. Instead, they stimulate our attention and positive associations; we become happier. Meditating produces a greater flow of blood to the pre-frontal cortex, which activates the executive functions, the decision making, the resolutive attitude; we get to know better what we want. Meditating also increases the level of some neurotransmitters and hormones, among others serotonin (mood control), dopamine (control of social phobia), melatonin during sleep (deep sleep), with the result of stabilizing the mind; we become more lucid. Another proven benefit of meditation is that it triggers the growth of new neurons (neurogenesis) and generates new connections between existing neurons (synaptogenesis); we take full advantage of our intelligence.
There is much more, these data only serve to confirm what our ancestors, with their own bodies as their only tool for research, already were very clear with. Some keys are in the analysis of Patanjali’s words:
Yogas (of Yoga). The word is synonymous of Samadhi: spiritual perfection and union with the absolute. It also encompasses the meaning of “mastery of the body,” “perfect stillness of the mind,” “intrinsic ability of the mind to be concentrated.” It is about being in our center, the essence that we all have and that, in all, is good.
Chitta means “what gathers” and alludes to our mind but also to the ego, to the senses, to the voluntary actions, and to the pranas (the 5 types of bio-energy). Chitta is like a container of feelings, thoughts, ideas, which are what defines the human mind. Without thoughts, the mind does not exist. We are continuously collecting information, storing it, modifying it, creating new information. Chitta is a vast warehouse and is constantly in action. We identify with both our positive and negative feelings so deeply, that we cannot observe them at a distance, and their constant presence takes away our calmness, generates stress and obfuscates our purest and most real vision, our focused vision.
Vrittis are the activities that occupy our mind and are divided between true knowledge, wrong knowledge, imagination, dream, memory. We are almost always engaged in some of these activities, and these are the ones we can learn to control through Yoga. Vrittis translates into “modifications of the mind”, but the word also alludes to rotation, suggesting a movement. Very true. Emotions, memories, assumptions rotate and move without stopping inside the mind, especially when we try to stop them. They can take us away from our center.
Nirodha is the complete absence of thoughts, that is to say, to lead the mind not to think. The word also refers to restriction, control or domain, and a self-training process. That is, there is work to be done to achieve this goal.
By practicing Yoga we offer a moment of rest to Chitta, calming the Vrittis and bringing the mind to a state of rest, Nirodha. In this way we are creating a space to indentify with something other than our little “I”, the bliss “full consciousness”.
Yogi masters, who love metaphors very much, compare it with the ability to calm the surface of a restless lake so that we can see all the way to the bottom. The act of training ourselves to observe our thoughts and stop the fluctuations of the mind (or the flow of consciousness) allows us to see that consciousness itself is our true nature and that the ephemeral noise of thoughts, feelings and sensations is not real or significant .
The method indicated by Patanjali, called Yoga, “is both the means and the goal” (B.K.S. Iyengar).
And the good news is that the only necessary tool to get there is our own body.
atha yoganusasanam – “Now, instructions in yoga begin”
Today, taking off my shoes and socks and positioning my feet parallel on the mat, I firmly place on the ground my commitment to work with my heart, to flow in practice, to continue investigating, to communicate without fear, to be present.