Monday, March 10, 2014

Top 5 Yogic paths to success

What is success? While success is often defined by the attainment of a goal, for a yogi what would that goal be? Many yogis consider success as Samadhi (समाधि) which can be loosely defined as oneness with absolute truth.  Many including Manju Jois would consider Samdadhi as total happiness without leaving the body.  To be happy is a common goal for everyone all around the world.  There are Sanskrit scholars who will further break down the word Samadhi to discover it's etymology.  Patanjali breaks Samadhi down into 3 distinct categories, where the third is complete and ultimate wholeness where there is no longer mind, duality or experience from subject to object. 

After teaching yoga to various groups of people worldwide, everyone has their own perception of success, even when it comes to their yoga practice.  For some yogis it is getting passed the primary series of Ashtanga, for some it is doing the handstand, maybe to touch their toes, to heal from injuries and explore alignment, for some it is being able to learn as many Bhajans or Kirtan to the hearts desire, perhaps doing a teacher training course and becoming a full time yoga teacher, and for the great majority is a 90 minute chance to breathe and sweat through the noise that interferes with day to day life.  Whatever style of yoga that is practiced, whatever physical ability you may have, whatever perception... once the perception sees past the duality, the mind noise, and experiences total oneness with everything, the normal result is happiness.  Happiness is a common goal for those who have a physical practice and those who don't.  Is this goal of happiness realistic?  YES.  The beautiful thing is this attainment happiness, this success will shine both on and off your yoga mat.  We all will have our own obstacles (kleshas), and it is up to the individual to make the best with their individual path (dharma).

  1. INTENTION : In sanskrit we would call this sankalpah.  Set your motivation, connect with your purpose before every practice, every interaction, so that your life begins with mindful intent.  This intent is backed up by Vedic philosophy, quantum theory, and many popular self help gurus.  It works.  Offer every class with intention, make it your moving prayer.  Begin your intentions with "I AM", and watch your practice transform.
  2. FOCUS: In yoga focus is often referred to as Dristi, or gaze.  This gaze is to ensure students are in the moment. This focus is on and off the mat.  Never allow your external circumstances or other people to steal your joy.  In your life, you may face challenges, loss, stress, illness, vicious people, or distractions, regardless, you can always focus on something greater, you can always surrender situations to a Higher Power of Love & Forgiveness.  You are the creator, so always be in control of your focus.  Keep the focus on your breath, breathing in the good sh*t, and breathing out the bull-sh*t.
  3. EMBRACE EVERYTHING: This means every fall, every challenge is to be embraced.  If we allow ourself to get beaten up over external circumstances, we could use some more time on our yoga mat.  A brilliant teacher I came across last year told me to look back at hurdles in life as "interesting events".  In essence it is our emotions that attach to our experiences, so while we cannot deny our experiences, we can learn from them and evolve.
  4. LOSE EXPECTATIONS: If your goal is to be a famous yoga teacher, or just to be happy when that goal is all about yourself it is an expectation, when it is what can I do for others or the other person, it will naturally bring your goal to fruition.  As Leo Tolstoy says in reference to wanting to be happy "just be".  His Holliness Dalai Lama refers to happiness as a result of your actions.  When we expect, or have a "I want" attitude, we will unconsciously focus on what we do not have, however, when we surrender with total faith, gratitude and love, mountains can move.
  5. SMILE: I often cue "lift the corners of your lips", because too often people hold their suffering in their face.  It takes more muscles to smile than frown, so do your work out, put the effort in.  Patanjali refers to cheerfulness more than any other concept in the sutras.  Be content (santosha) with where you are, who you are, and where you are going.  In essence we are all spiritual beings living a human experience, regardless of race, gender, religion, size, we all will have our own life lessons, it is up to us to smile through them (on and off the yoga mat).            

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