Patanjali’s Ashtanga Part II – yoga for oneself.

The idea of virtue has been bandied about in holy scripture and sutra since people first were able to put stick to clay. It seems that without recommended activities and habits, we humans don’t have a line of rectitude for healthy living or spiritual well-being.

Purity and freedom from contamination lies at the heart of Patañjali’s sutras. It is essential for health, happiness and well being. From the food we eat to the air we breathe to the company we keep, there are many factors that can influence our balance. Pranayama teaches us to take in prana and expel apana, from sweating and our daily ablutions, we must embrace our well being and let go of all toxins that we hold onto. Even abstract concepts such as greed, pride and fear can pollute our thoughts as easily as processed food.

For this clarity we must look inward and be able to be content with our place in the universe. Only when we accept our place in the universe so we create an environment for prosperity. Free from profit or loss. Free from pleasure or pain. This in itself creates a paradox. To have desire to be desire-less. But do we all not desire for inner peace and prosperity?

It is on this note that we then need to tackle discipline. The ability of ones self not to bend to the will of the mind but to persevere almost against the self destructive human nature and embrace meditation and moderation. This step towards self realisation is one that can be the most difficult for westerners who are raised to seek external gratification. The practice of virtue enables the Yogi to look deep inside and find what is truly of great value.

And what will they find? Probably themselves. An introspective attunement to the supreme consciousness? A void where nothing means something and everything is pointless?

I’m not sure. Time will tell.

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