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Now the discipline of yoga

full lotus pose

full lotus pose

Now the discipline of yoga. The first yoga sutra is very clear: yoga is a discipline; a way of life. In the west (Europe, the United States) yoga has become some kind of fitness for a lot of people. From the eightfold path (the eight disciplines) there are in yoga (one of the styles of yoga to be precise) only the asanas are practised. But yoga is so much more, can bring so much more than just physical health. But then the whole of yoga has to be practised. The whole discipline.

But we’re Europeans. We have so many things on our mind, we don’t have time to do ‘real’ yoga. We do the asanas, because they feel good and make us look good. We do some breathing every now and then, because it calms our mind. But for the rest….

Yoga starts with some guidelines to live by: the yamas (non-violence, truthfulness, non-stealing, control of sexual energy, non-attachment) and the niyamas (purifying body and mind, cultivating an attitude of contentment, self control/ardour, exploring your own actions and deeds, trusting the spiritual source). Next up are the asanas (yoga poses) and pranayama (breathing exercises). And it finishes with pratyahara (control of the senses), dharana (concentration) dhyana (meditation) and samadhi (being on a higher conscious level).

Osho says we have to be totally hopeless to start with yoga. Real yoga. The discipline of yoga; Athayoganushasanam, as it is called in the Yoga Sutra’s of Patanjali (the first person to write about yoga). Why? Because yoga is discipline. If we still have hope our life can become better, we can’t bring up the discipline for yoga. If we are ‘okay’ or happy with our lives, we won’t change it and can’t bring up the discipline for yoga, because yoga is hard work. Yoga is living by the yamas and niyams, yoga is doing asanas day in day out, yoga is doing pratayama day in day out, yoga is meditation day in day out. Yoga is questioning ourselves day in day out: why do we do what we do? Why do we react the way we react, why do we feel what we feel? If somebody is saying of doing something to us we don’t like, we shouldn’t look at that person, we have to look at our own response, our own reaction, our own feeling and analyse where that reaction/feeling is coming from. The other person is just a mirror, revealing something about ourselves. We have to examine that ‘something’, deal with it, work with it, so we won’t react, won’t feel the same emotion next time. We can’t hide ourselves anymore, but continually have to work with our emotions, our feelings, our reactions. That’s why yoga is a discipline. It’s hard work and it takes a lot and a lot of time.

If we really have to be ‘done’ with life, really have to be hopeless, like Osho is stating, is the question. Truth is: we have to be a little ‘mad’ to do yoga. To be disciplined enough to do yoga. Making time to do asanas day in, day out, making time to analyse ourselves, making time to do our breathing exercises, to meditate, simple means giving up a lot of other things. There isn’t a lot of time left to work, to have hobbies, to visit friends. Almost all the time we have, will be invested in yoga. And is that what the most of us really want? Or do we prefer to keep it by doing asanas and occasionally a meditation? It’s a question we all have to answer for ourselves. But if we really, really want to do yoga, we have to be disciplined, because yoga is no fitness, it’s no religion, it’s not a quick fix of escape from our stressy jobs and life. Yoga is a discipline.

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