Sunday, June 26, 2011

Bhagavad Gita - On & Off the Yoga Mat

The Bhagavad Gita is one of the most beloved of Hindu Scriptures. It is an excerpt from the Mahabharata. In almost every Yoga Teacher Training it is one of the main texts that students explore and study. Often times when I teach Yoga class I like to incorporate a theme from the Yoga Sutras, The Chakras, The Bhagavad Gita, The Mahabharata, The Ramayana, Biblical quotes or even a song, something to tie it into the practice so people go beyond the physical exercise.

The Bhagavad Gita tells the story of Arjun from the Panadava family having to accept his Dharma (purpose) of battle with his tyranical cousins from the Kaurava family, also known as the Kurushetra War. Ironically, the Kaurava's are led by Dhritarashtra, who is blind. This blindness is also symbolic for ignorance. The Pandava family are very pale in complexion, almost white, and this is symbolic of purity. The Kaurava family are led by greed and ignorance. While Arjun looks across the battle field he sees his cousins and struggles with accepting his Dharma, as he looks at them with compassion. The size of the Kaurava army is great compared to the small army that Arjun has, but Arjun is a Master Archer and he has Lord Krishna on his side.

While Yoga is not teaching people to fight, in our lives there are times we are up against blindness, ignorance and greed, we have battles, and it is important to look at our opposition with compassion, to put God first in all our battles, and to know that when we assert ourselves for the purpose of the greater good, we are fulfilling our Dharma.

How do we embrace this on the Yoga Mat? We must understand that Yoga Asana and Pranayama exercises are to rid the body of toxins, in order for us to grow deeper in Spirituality. If we practice yoga without peace in our heart, without awareness of Divine love, we are just going through motions. Similar if we go to church, temple, and mosque reciting prayers, and having no love in our hearts, then we are just going through the motions. It is far better to allow these ancient teachings to help us grow spiritually than anything else.

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