Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Lessons of the Yoga Sutras - further questions from Elise

After asking me about the Guruji book, Elise followed up with some other questions she had been pondering:

Do the lessons of the Yoga Sutras automatically come through practice without reading them?

Guruji felt it was very important to study yoga philosophy. Without study the aim of practice is likely to be misguided. In the Guruji book I asked Norman Allen:

"How far do you think the physical practice can take you?"

Norman Allen: "In most cases probably nowhere, without taking other steps… without the right intentions, without the right diet, without Yama/Niyama it ain’t happenin’. Its just not happening...You gotta make sure that you dissolve the ego, get rid of the ego. If practice becomes sensational and competitive it is completely anterior, it becomes tamasic. You gotta’ become sattvic in potential, in means and in intent or you don’t have a chance."

Guy: "You don’t think that practice can destroy the ego?"

Norman Allen: "Practice often amplifies the ego depending where the intent comes... not a little bit, you know… the warnings are out there - it’s in the (devotional) songs, it’s all over the place…"

What is the connection between the Yoga Sutras and the practice we do?

Guruji believed this was the original Patanjali method as described in the Yoga Korunta. This is what Krishnamacharya had to say about the Korunta:

"Rama Mohana made me memorize the whole of the Yoga Gurandam (Korunta) in the Gurkha language. The various stages of Patanjali's Yoga Sutra are dealt with in that book in a very precise but extensive commentary. That is necessary because Sutras are by definition very concise. In the Yoga Gurandam, the various kinds of Yoga poses and movements are described with great clarity. Only after studying this book can one understand the inner meaning and science of the Yoga Sutra of Patanjali."

The yoga sutra delineates the path and explains the obstacles, but the elaboration of the techniques used to overcome these obstacles are to be found in greater detail in the Yoga Korunta, Hatha Yoga Pradipika, Gheranda Samhita etc. 

For instance, the sutra says nothing about the breathing in asana. Guruji taught that the breathing should be even - this would lead to evenness of mind - "Chale vate chalam chittam nischale nischalam bhavet" - he integrated teachings from the Hatha Yoga Pradipika and other texts also.