1.13 tatra sthitau yatnah abhyasah
Practice is the steadfast effort to still these fluctuations.
In this yoga sutra “these fluctuations” are the movements of consciousness. We experience the movements in our consciousness when our thoughts are bouncing around. We have a thought which sparks another thought which turns into another thought, and so on and on and on. Patanjali, the author of the Yoga Sutras, explains that the way to slow, or still, this run-on pattern is by practicing. We are to make an effort to still the fluctuations and this effort IS the practice.
In Iyengar Yoga we start this practice by turning to the asanas (postures). The asanas grab our attention–they say, pay attention to me! When we do an asana it’s often difficult, or impossible, to think about anything besides the sensations we are experiencing in that moment. The physicality of the poses pulls the mind in a direction away from the usual run-on pattern. The run-on thoughts are interrupted.
Class is where we are introduced to the asanas. We learn the shape of the pose and what actions to make in the muscles so that the pose has vitality and a sense of direction. We also learn how to work with the props so that the poses are more attainable. But what we are doing in class is only sort of a practice. In class we are, after all, putting effort toward trying to focus our attention, which does still the consciousness. Class is not a true practice because someone else (the teacher) is telling us what to do and where to focus. In a true practice we would make an attempt to do this on our own.
But what should we do at home? And how? And can I practice without this lofty goal of wanting to still the fluctuations in my consciousness? Can’t I just do some poses because it feels good? Or want to fix my back? Or sleep better? These are all great questions which we will try to answer in the next Saturday Target Class, called “Learn to Practice at Home“.
All levels of students are encouraged to practice at home. So all levels of students are encouraged to attend this class. You can learn how to start. Or if you already have an established practice we will discuss ways to improve and deepen.
Learn to Practice at Home
Saturday, Feb. 17