Through the practice of yoga, both on and off the mat, we set ourselves on a course to access greater ease in life. Thinking on the term ease may conjure up thoughts of relief from physical discomfort as well as peace from the mind’s incessant activity – both common reasons people embark on the yoga path to begin with.
In a modern day world, fighting our busy schedules to make it to the studio and rolling out our mats in generally serene spaces, we are relatively removed from history of yoga – and may be missing some of the key pieces in why it works.
In the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, an ancient text that outlines steps we can follow while walking our path, lies infinite wisdom to support our getting clear on how mastering our minds will make the difference in our experiencing the ease we are seeking – mentally, physically, spiritually.
We often hear talk about the elusive concept of “letting go” in yoga clas. There are several Sutras that come together nicely in helping to understand a little more clearly what this means and what it looks like.
Patanjali discusses Non-Greed, or Aparigraha, (Sutra 2.39) as one of the Yamas, or ethics and morals related to our social behavior. This thread can be woven throughout your physical practice on the mat, by not being attached to progress, but rather experiencing the process. Then, we can take a look at what we prioritize off the mat, acknowledging the temporary nature of “stuff” and our spirits as ever present.
Soon after, Patanjali talks about Contentment, or Santosha, (2.42) as one of the Niyamas, which are rules of conduct we can follow in relation to our personal behavior. Cultivating a harmonious mind is a state we can strive toward on the mat, by breathing through the poses and experiencing our bodies as they are, moment-by-moment and different every day. Next, we can gauge our happiness off the mat, investigating if desire is keeping us from experiencing joy.
Through these two threads alone, we can begin to see beneath the physical and mental, to go through the barriers that keep us from being our truest, most radiant versions of self. When we walk through life as our most authentic self, we are on-purpose, and we are doing divine work.
To comprehend and experience living our True Self, or Purusha, (2.17) is found through the practice of non-attachment, which allows us to remain in the related state of equanimity. Living from a place of acceptance is “letting go.”
Thinking won’t get you there. Trying harder won’t get you there. Letting go is a choice. It’s not complicated. What will you choose today?