True yoga is perfect harmony

Yoga is nothing
if it is not perfect harmony of body, senses,
mind and intellect, reason, consciousness and self.
When all these are integrated that is true Yoga.

At the start of the pandemic I wrote an article about the essential role of a personal practice for anyone embarking on the path of yoga. I have continued to refine this idea in several articles.

Early in my yoga journey I studied with a man called Swami Venketesananda who as a disciple of the renowned Swami Sivananda served his guru in many capacities, one of which was as editor for Sivananda’s many books. One day his master presented him with a new book for editing and noting its similarity to a previous book Venketesananda pointed this out. “I know, I know,” was Sivananda’s response, “but few people would have understood the teaching at first and since they are unlikely to reread that book I am giving them another chance!”

With that in mind, here I go again!

Unhealthy air from wildfires in the US west coast states is blanketing Victoria and environs at present. Along with Vancouver on some days last week we shared the distinction of having the worst air quality in the world! Once again there is a need to adapt.

The practice of yoga is more valuable than ever to meet this additional challenge to life and health, and while classes and good teachers are excellent guides, there is nothing as reliable as knowing how to modify your individual practice for all eventualities. We are being advised not to undertake strenuous outdoor activities. Yoga, of course, is generally an indoor activity but this too needs modification .

Guruji would often speak about giving us clues. A guru doesn’t tell you what to do but points out the consequences of your choices. A guru will guide you on the path of yoga. A good teacher will instruct and train you to use the tools of yoga. The fellowship of others also attempting this challenging journey can strengthen your resolve. All of these will encourage you to persevere. All have a role to play but there is one role which rests entirely in your own hands: that of yoga practitioner.

To become more proficient and refine your yoga, discrimination is essential: how, when and where to make use of the tools you have acquired in the face of the idiosyncrasies of your own body as well as the excuses and emotional dependencies which cloud your judgment and interfere with your resolve. The more you practise the firmer your steps become, their purpose clearer. You develop a clearer sense of what strengthens and what weakens you. You become a warrior not a wimp.

Now is not the time for complex breathing techniques or spectacular accomplishments. It is time to refine body, mind and breath to become more efficient and discriminating in living through the challenge of today while at the same time becoming flexible and steady enough to face come what may for as long as necessary.

Practising by yourself on a regular basis may enable you to come face to face with your Self. From my own experience, the person who goes downstairs each morning to practise yoga is not the same as the one who emerges later on. I prefer the second one as probably so do most others in my life.

Shirley Daventry French
September 17, 2020