Chewing and Chewing to "Know Your Yoga"
Posted on Monday, October 29, 2007 at 5:57 AM
There are three stages in Jnana Yoga, the yoga of intellectual inquiry. The first step is listening. This is what we did during our Know Your Yoga training weekend. We explored The Sutras, The Gita and other texts on yoga. The second step is chewing, or thinking about it. The final step is realizing or knowing.
The philosophy and history of yoga is a regal banquet. This sumptuous feast includes every delicacy one can imagine. And just like a banquet featuring Eastern cuisine, it includes some dishes that seem odd or even indigestible. But if you have a taste for Indian food, as I do, much of it seems rich, delicious and deeply satisfying.
After tucking into this feast of science, philosophy, history, psychology and legendary stories, the students who attending this training have reported much chewing.
One student was quiet during the discussions so I checked in with her see how she was assimilating what can seem an overwhelming amount of material. She replied with an email that seemed to sing.
Her style of listening (step 1) was to sit and absorb, instinctively knowing that a period of chewing or examining (step 2) would follow. Her comments revealed an approach towards step 3, realizing the truth. Indian philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti said, "Truth is a pathless land." Each one of us must find our own way and come to our own understanding of this Truth. Below is what this student had come to know:
"I didn't participate a whole lot in the big discussions, but I have spent a lot of time this week talking with my friends and co-workers about how excited I am about the philosophies and idea/ideals that were discussed. I have discussed vaguely before that yoga goes much beyond the physical practice most commonly associated with it, but did not have a deep enough grasp on the overall picture to be confident in discussing it too much before."
She then beautifully shared an insight about a misunderstanding that often comes up regarding yoga:
"I really appreciated the discussion regarding religion versus spirituality, as this is a discussion I have had many times with others, and have not felt very successful in expressing where I feel yoga falls. I know after the group discussion, I ... felt for the first time I was truly able to express in my own words how I feel on this. Putting it simply, with religion, an individual is being directly guided to specific beliefs and ideals, whereas with yoga, the individual is being guided and/or self-directed to gain enhanced focus and attention to their own beliefs and ideals. Yoga provides the opportunity to clear out "the mindstuff" and distractions, so I can better experience where my own heart and/or "higher power" is leading me."
She then shared a sentiment similar to what other students felt. "I have previously done some reading and study on my own, including the Sutras, but it is through discussion like this past weekend that the information really starts to come together. This has actually been one of my favorite training sessions regarding yoga, and further enhanced my passion for teaching and bringing the practice to as many as I can."
Consider this the first installment of many entries to come on the process of assimilating the philosophy and science of yoga into our understanding and our daily lives. There is still much chewing to be done.