Sutra 2.23: sva svami saktyoh svarupa upalabdhi hetuh samyogah
The real purpose of this confusion is to allow recognition of the true nature of the force behind both the knower and that which is known. Translation by Kofi Busia
The union of Owner (Purusha) and owned (Prakriti) causes the recognition of the nature and powers of them both. Translation by Sri Guruji Reverend Jaganath
The correlation [between the Seer and the Seen] is the reason for the apprehension of the essential form of the power of the “owner” and that of the “owned”. Translation by Georg Feuerstein
Every week in this post, and at the end of nearly every class I teach, I close with the Sanskrit assertion: “hari om, om tat sat.” This line has always resonated with me, even before I was given its translation, and it continues to resonate more strongly each time I say it, each time I discover a little bit more what it means (and what it means to me).
What does it mean? Well, it means a little something along the lines of what sutra 2.23 is getting at. If you could step outside yourself and see the big picture, you’d see, perhaps, that you are not separate from it.
Let’s think about this in terms of groupings we make in life. Like yoga as a thing, as an industry. It has business, it has jargon, it has cultural norms and it can seem an awful lot like it’s an exclusive club if you’ve only ever been on the “outside” of it. Many folks who’ve never done yoga, see the culture we in the United States have created around its practice and think it might just be a club where skinny girls who’ve always been flexible do gymnastics in spandex (or whatever the fancy fabrics are called these days), subsist on juice cleanses alone, and spout pithy feel-good sayings on their facebook pages. It can look a little -or a lot- weird “from the outside,” like something that has nothing to do with you, “normal” Jane.
Yoga as a thing can also seem like a closed circle if you’re so heavily entrenched in its ways that being “inside” of it is blinding you to its broadness. Those who’ve soaked in yoga’s usefulness, who get it, but let themselves get stuck keeping it on the mat, keeping it inside of the culture, keeping it exclusive, because it’s just easier that way. It’s easier to never have to explain or defend or see differently –even for the good and the big hearted.
But truly, yoga is potentially in everything and everywhere around you.
Step inside and you’ll get a hint of this. It’s not really as glossy as we let it seem. It is AMAZING, but it is super accessible. It is something ANYONE can practice. (I deeply believe there is a yoga for everyone, and I normally revile sweeping generalizations.)
Step outside and you will too. You’ll see, I hope, that the practice of yoga is everywhere in many forms that have nothing to do with spandex. How we treat ourselves and others brings us into a practice of yoga. A deep sigh is a natural pranayama (breath practice). Staring out the window, daydreaming is a natural entryway to meditation (honest!). The pathways to yoga are all around you.
Step in and step out it: see it both ways, all ways, and you’ll have a better grasp of what your yoga is. Practice on the mat trains your focus and builds your ability to broaden your awareness. Practice off the mat puts your training to use, and can continue it by challenging your senses and beliefs. Your practice of yoga can help you know, deeply, who you are and what big picture you’re part of.
Hari om tat sat!
Experience your true self and bring it into every moment of your living!
The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali are a classical text on yoga–a guidebook of sorts.
Each week, 216 teacher Esther Palmer dives into one of the sutras and we let it take us where it takes us.