Happy April, beautiful yogis! April Fool´s Day is not my forte – I simply don’t have the chops to coordinate a good prank…ah well. I remember in elementary school a classmate brought in Oreos filled with white toothpaste (to look like frosting) for the class. I was completely disgusted for the poor victims of that prank – ew!
Anyways, in honor of the Spring cleaning and detox theme, Sutra 16 from Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras is spot on for Wednesday Yoga Wisdom!
Sutra 16: When there is non-thirst for even the gunas (constituents of Nature) due to the realization of the Purusa (True Self), that is supreme non-attachment.
The meaning of this sutra is a profound realization. Basically, Patanjali is saying that once we have experienced the nirvana that is within our own selves, all of the material crutches that we lean on become meaningless. The gunas (sattva, rajas, and tamas) are different qualities or tendencies of someone or something. These gunas cannot even compare to the wholeness that exists within each one of us. We no longer seek to identify ourselves with a certain characteristic once we understand the oneness and serenity that is our true self.
Elaborating further Sri Swami Satchidananda explains, “You can’t just go into the mind and erase the impressions. But they get themselves erased at one point. When? When you succeed in going within and realizing the peace and joy of your own Self.”
How miraculous - that all of the numbing, escaping, and bad habits are simply pointless! For me, this sutra turns yoga into a lifestyle choice and not just something that we practice on a mat. Yoga will allow us to move closer to finding our true selves and the need for outside influences will fall away. However, it is not a quick fix and we cannot denounce all of our bad habits after our first yoga class – it is a false boycott and, most likely, we will not stick with it. Instead, we must allow the yoga to do its work over time.
Foods that do not serve our body, alcohol, negative thought patterns, gossip, frivolous shopping, and laziness are a few examples of attachments that we rely on to numb, escape, ease our pain, and make ourselves feel happier. Slowly, yoga allows us to leave these outside impressions behind. Not only because we cannot dedicate ourselves to a practice when these impressions are running rampant in life but also because the yoga helps us to realize that we simply do not need these things. It is a cycle that leads us to an authentically happier and healthier life.
It is simple, peaceful and attainable – not a self-depriving struggle. I know that I still have a long way to go to detach from the material crutches around me but the journey does not seem daunting. I know that as I grow and stay focused on my practice, the need for these outside things will simply fall away.