Of the six major Indic philosophies, yoga is the one focused on using action to fuel liberation / enlightenment / clarity in life, etc (i.e., viveka and kaivalya as achieved through samadhi).
Yogis don’t need you to figure out why you’re stuck (in your illusions, avidya), just that you are. They’ll give you something to do (a “practice”) to get you unstuck and send you on your way to get right to it.
“Do the practice and all is coming” the master teacher Pattabhi Jois is famously reported as saying. My teacher Alan Finger reminds us every class to sit in samadhi for 18 minutes every day and you will simply flow through life. What they’re saying is that there’s no need to hash out the details, just do the practices (usually as given to you by your constant teacher) and clarity will emerge.
Sutra 4.8: The images that are built in the mind and the actions that flow from them colour the mind creating tendencies which manifest when conditions are favourable.
Sutra 4.9: The relation between the actions, the tendencies they create, and the manifestation of these tendencies in behaviour may be vague: especially when the behaviour and its antecedents are separate in time, place, and embodiment – yet the latent impressions (tendencies) and memory are identical in nature.
Translation by Swami Venkatesananda
Book Four of the Yoga Sutras addresses how the enlightened yogi moves through life (full as it is of others who are not yet enlightened) without slipping back to past habits. In short, the yogi continues in her practice, only now it is a largely effortless one. It’s a choice that flows from the prior diligence she’s given the practice over the years.
Any good project planner and manager knows something about this. I see this with my husband every fashion week here in NYC. He’s part of the crew that sets the stage and lights for the different events, shows that go up, run, and come down with lightening speed and often with last-minute changes and challenges. He’s applied himself with care to this work for long enough to know exactly what a specific show will need to proceed smoothly (including for the crew that makes it happen).
His meticulous planning, which includes minding details that most of his peers are likely to overlook, means a ton of patient prep work at home that results in show after show going off without a hitch. He’s got so many angles covered that even when things outside of his control go wrong, he knows how to adjust his plan quickly to keep things flowing.
Mastering one’s yoga practice is no different from this. Learn which practices to use in different situation, diligently stick to them, and no matter what you encounter, you’ll flow through your life with joy and clarity. Even if it doesn’t go as planned!
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.