30 January 2013

Why do we start from the 3rd limb: Asana or Physical Practice?

For the past weeks, i'll been thinking about a verse from the Yoga Sutra on the 9 obstacles which obstruct the progression of being at peace. Which also came in line to a question i asked Sharath during one of the conference in Mysore, on why people break away from practices after sometimes, and what should we do?

Or maybe i should say, i've been thinking about Sharath's reply, then the verse from the sutra appear. Along the way in my little personal quest, a chiropractor friend, Gary, mentioned something that kind of offered a missing piece. He said, ' Find the point of at ease'. He probably said many other stuff, but i just heard this line louder.

With all the information digestion going on for a week, this morning, the picture got clearer.
Sharath's answer to my question was the lack of rootedness in the practice. That we have to be in touch with our practice, so much that none can shake us, or uproot us. "Be very very grounded in your practice." Further explained that when our physical daily practice becomes stable and grounded ( a well- functioned physical health) naturally our mental achieved focus and clarity ( optimal mental health) for making good decision. Ground the practice is important, be grounded. 
In the 1.30 verse of the yoga sutra, listed down the 9 obstacles that may be affecting our progression in life.

1) Disease
2) mental laziness
3) doubts, indecision

4) inattentiveness
5) idleness
6) lacking in moderation, sense gratification

7) living in delusion

8) lack of perseverance
9) inability to maintain progress due to pride or stagnation.

Of which, i'm sure that at any one point, we are either one or more of these obstacles. And everyday, we're either living, or fighting them. I am too, that is what keeping me busy whole day!

Coming to Gary's " Finding the point of at ease". To my understanding of sourcing out the root problem, having it align to the right point, and the rest of the problems will dissolves by itself.
We are always busy putting out fire, but fail to see what cause the fire to rage. Because, the main problem is always so deep rooted by many distractions that we are too busy entertaining them. At the end of the day, we are tired and burnt, still the problem is not solve.

How should we go about it? Where should we start?
Get physical!

Also in the 8 limbs of Ashtanga yoga, Sri K Pattabhi Jois suggested to enter from the 3rd limbs: Asana or physical practice. Referring back to the yoga sutra, we starts to handle the physical obstacles. And later then we build upon the mental and the other aspect of the practice.

Reason being is that we can get external help and guidance from the teacher, when we do physical practice. The teacher will be able to make physical adjustment, provide instruction and correction. As for the other non- physical practices, little instructions, almost very little or none adjustment is possible from the teacher.

That's why Sharath mentioned the importance of a grounded physical practice; which also leads to a healthy spiritual growth eventually.

Just like a tree, if the root is not deep enough, the frail tree may not survive well enough in harsh environment. It falls, and may cause danger to others.

If the root of the tree is well- taken care of, slowly but surely, the tree will grow strong with thick trunk, deep rooted in the ground; when it grow, it can provide protection to others.

Never a yoga practitioner i've met mentioned that yoga is easy. Because it is not. 
But why do they still do it? There must be a reason, that physical pain is not as important as to know that seed of blissfulness is growing within. 

With reference to: BKS IYENGAR, Light On the Yoga Sutra Of Patanjali
                                  Foreword by: Yehudi Menuhin

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