This blog includes reflections, creative work and resources. It is a glimpse of one person's journey within the realm of inquiry, experience with the human body and spirit. Look for ideas rather than answers. No claims are made. Perfection is not implied. I write as inspired to do so. Take what works for you, leave the rest. If you share anything from this blog, either verbally or in writing, please do your best to give credit where credit is due. Thank you for visiting.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

How To Study The Philosophy Of Yoga

In class this week someone requested more information on the study of yogic philosophy.  Here are some suggestions from how I have and continue to study. 

The philosophy of yoga can be found in Patanjali's Yoga Sutras and the Bhagavad Gita.  There are many translations of each.  The Sutras read like a manual.  About mid-way through the 8-limbs of yoga are covered.  I read a word-for-word translation with commentary by V.S. Rao.  The Gita is written in story form.  I have read several translations but usually turn to Graham Schweig's Bhagavad Gita: The Beloved Lord's Secret Love Song or an audiobook of Stephen Mitchell's translation. 

Here are some links to Amazon Books:



One source is the Self Realization Fellowship which teaches Paramahansa Yogananda's Kriya Yoga.  His book Autobiography of a Yogi is one I have read half a dozen times.  For a very low fee which covers paper and postage you can sign up to receive a lesson per week.  http://www.yogananda-srf.org/

If one wants to commit, a training can be most helpful.  There are many available all over the country.  Some are specifically for people who want to teach.  Anna Pittman's training is a year-long, meeting one weekend per month with assignments in between.  Here is a link to her information:

One way to study on your own is to choose a concept and apply it to your life for a period of time, such as a week or a month.  Now, it is not about memorizing or cramming for an exam.  Read, embrace, let it soak it.  Relax and allow for "ah-ha" moments rather than perfecting anything.  Reflect on the concept, write about it and perhaps connect with a study partner to discuss it.

For example:
- yoga sutra #4 is chosen as a concept to apply to one's life for a period of time
VRUTTI = modifications of the mind-stuff
SARUPYAM = assumes the forms
ITARATRA = at other times
V.S. Rao has translated this as, "At other times, that is, other than that of concentration, the Seer is identified with the modifications."  And he continues with, "For example, someone abuses you; this produces a modification, VRITTI, in your mind and you identify yourself with it, resulting in anger and misery.  You seem to have lost your original identity and have identified with your throughts and body.  Suppose I ask you who you are if you do not identify with anything whatsoever.  If you say 'I am a man' you have identified yourself with a masculine body.  If you say 'I am a millionaire' you have identified yourself with your bank account.  But without any such identifications who are you?  If you detach yourself completely from all the things you have identified yourself with, you realize yourself as the pure "I AM".  In that pure "I" state there will be no difference between you and me.  And all is BRAHMA."
- To apply this concept to your life you can watch for the experience of identifying with whatever it is you habitually blanket over your pure being.  Chances are great (although it's not impossible?) you will not forever remove the habit in one week.  But as you practice you are strengthening the part of you that is the observer, creating a little space between the habit of placing outer circumstances onto who you really are.

In my experience, philosophy is about gradually introducing concepts into life.  There was a period where I got too ahead of myself.  It led to more confusion with some major stumbling blocks. My own habits are in themselves enough to deal with!  So, I suggest a bit-by-bit approach to the material. It's far more important to apply what you can grasp rather than take outer concepts and force them on yourself.  Good teachers are important in helping you do just that at an appropriate pace with essential guidance to prevent stumbling blocks.  

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