Everything we know about yoga comes to us from our most revered text – Patanjali Yoga Sutras. And this timeless treatise on Yoga begins with ‘Atha Yoganushasanam’ or ‘Now, the Discipline of Yoga’. This implies that the Yoga Sutras were taught to students who were already practicing yoga; and the Guru felt that the time had come to teach them the theoretical, mystical side of the practice.
In my case that preparation has taken 10 years! I’ve been teaching Yoga for a decade and now I can say that I finally have the Discipline to learn more. Of course, it’s been an epic journey already – leaving home, family and friends to live with my Guru for 7 years and then leaving His auspices to try learning on my own. All through this I’ve had a start-stop relationship with yoga sadhana – either through inertia, injury, or a ‘I’m only interested in Meditation and not physical practice’ attitude.
Finally, last year I suffered a slipped disc. And that was more than a life-altering event. 1 month in bed certainly puts things in perspective. Running yoga studios in 3 cities is not why I set off on this path in Yoga. That just happened; but my focus 10 years ago and even today is still using yoga to understand myself and delve deeper within. And then, there was and is the mission to spread Health & Happiness to everyone around through yoga!
So, when I felt fit enough after my recovery I embarked on a 21-day challenge with the ‘Sankalp’ (deep determination) of waking up at 5am every morning to practice Yoga & Meditation. Yesterday was Day 21! I’ve managed to do this every morning and like so many of us have experienced at various times in our lives; I feel not just empowered but ALIVE again! This is the stuff of life – making small (or large) goals, pursuing and accomplishing them!! It gives you the confidence to take on every challenge life throws at you. Like my Guru used to say; the only way to practice Detachment is to attach yourself to one worthwhile thing – and everything else will automatically become detached. As Patanjali wrote 2500 years ago – Abhyasa (Practice) & Vairagya (Detachment) are the keys to success in Yoga.
I’ve always been fascinated by sportsmen, artists and others who are able to re-invent themselves mid-life. Just like a Phoenix rising again. As Yoga teachers this is even more important – because if you thought your job was to teach, you’re absolutely wrong. Students can buy BKS’s ‘Light on Yoga’ and teach themselves yoga. Or they can watch a good Video and learn. Or even attend a short workshop. Some will even just Google for knowledge! No; you’re not going to teach after the first few classes – your job is to MOTIVATE! And for that you’ll need the Discipline to stay Motivated every single day!
So, what does Discipline in Yoga mean to you?