Inside Yoga 225 (12/2/2018)
Yes, all I want you to do is stop for a few moments and look at this image of a spot, a full-stop which is asking you to clear your mind, breathe calmly (and deeply) and focus on the spot for a minute (or more).
Have you done that? If you have, you might have noticed how quiet and calming it went in that fleeting moment, and perhaps you really saw the spot, for a second or more? Did you concentrate on the spot? Was it hard to focus, erratic with a good start and then a distracted moment when you forgot what you were meant to be doing? Did it irritate you? Did resistance rise the moment you tried to focus?
This simple exercise is an example of what a yoga practice asks of us. Change the spot for a yoga posture you are practising and notice how some of the above emotions, or perhaps all, will rise within us when practising (and fall with continued practice).
Now look at the spot again, and again, and keep this up: return to this exercise of looking at the spot at regularly intervals. Notice how you become better at maintaining your focus on the spot and how you maintain a feeling of equanimity at the same time? Your practice is improving.
This is the heart of a yoga practice: it is a practice of repeated exercises which help to remove the obstacles that prevent us from having a clear and focussed mind and body. When we are in this state of absorption, totally connected to the subject-object relationship of the exercise, we are experiencing yoga – yoga means ‘union’ when translated from Sanskrit.
The process and philosophy of yoga can feel complex, a hard and long journey, but the practice is straightforward and simple in many ways, in the same way that pausing to focus on a spot can be, it asks us to focus on the day-to-day steps of a journey and not the goals we might have set ourselves at the beginning. As the poet, Ralph Waldo Emerson said: “Life is a journey, not a destination.”
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