Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Force or Determined Effort

"Swatmarama, the author of Hatha Yoga Pradipika (hatha=force or determined effort) called the same path Hatha Yoga because it demanded rigorous discipline."
-B.K.S. Iyengar, Light on Yoga, 21st paragraph of the Introduction.

Hatha=Force or Determined Effort

Have we forgotten (or maybe we never knew) what Hatha Yoga is? It is Force-ful. It is Intense. We seem to want life to be light and pleasant, without conflict. This is what our culture teaches us.

From the time we were little kids we were taught to sit still and quietly in little desks. Sit still, be quiet, listen to what is told to you, and do it. This process doesn't support creative thinking, and isn't a good model for learning to take action.

Once we have been processed into working drones, TV watchers, and passive consumers, our education is considered successful. The lightness and passivity that this education cultivates--a pleasant demeanor--is a poor substitute for vitality, intensity and caring! Life can be rough, and the obligation most of us seem to feel to put a smile on a hurt is contradictory.

Yoga is for people who are ready to think as individuals. It is for people who are committed to feeling, experiencing, caring and doing the right thing. Yogis take responsibility for what they are doing.

How can a person be awakened from the anaesthetic sleep of complacency?

Yoga technique and discipline is a way to voyage forward into positive change. In yoga practice there is an opportunity, and even an invitation to learn your body, sensations and emotions. And to set up a plan of regular practice is key. If you only practice yoga when you feel like it, then you will only know yourself within the subset of those parameters. It is important to have the discipline and fortitude to hit the mat according to plan rather than relying on a whim. This takes Determined Effort; this is Hatha Yoga.

It is not an easy path, but it offers satisfaction. Yoga asks us to consider all aspects of ourselves, not just the parts that we like or choose. Everything. And in this quest towards understanding, we have the potential to be empowered, integrated, compassionate and peaceful.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone


Claudia said...

Well said, yes I like that. Some teachers recommend that the measure for the "not to practice" call should be only if we are having a fever, I kind of agree with that too.

Laura said...

wow much passion here in this post. I can feel the action in the photo of down dog too...those shoulders, arms and hands are so alive with energy flowing...indeed, yoga is not for sleepy heads and neither is living!

gentle, deliberate steps,

Anonymous said...

I like this post, too, because it is, in itself, forceful. As you said, people want things to be easy. But they are not. This is why I like the metaphor of Warrior. In order to move forward you need to be strong. However, people often misinterpret even the idea of strength, as if strength means you don't have feelings. Being human, we have feelings, we have physical sensation such as pain, we grow old, we lose people we love, we get sick, and we die. Strength means being able to tolerate all of that without turning it into drama, denial, escape, desire for rescue or otherwise acting out. This type of balance requires the discipline and passion of a warrior. Yoga practice, however forceful, is still just practice--so we can enjoy it--because the real battle is life (which with conscious effort we can experience also as bliss, but I guess that would require another metaphor).

Rhiannon said...

Jai!,Brooks,I could not agree more,Yoga ironically is about cessation of the fluctuations of the mind,yet a regular deep authentic practice allows us to think, sense, feel, be more clearly and vibrantly.

Eco Yogini said...

I think many individuals learn critical thinking once they hit university and those first few years can be shocking.

but then, I've always felt that there is a time and place for simply being open to learning... sitting quietly and absorbing.

i would say there is a balance that not many of us (like you so aptly pointed out) take- it's either one or the other... which results from a culture of extremes, all or nothing. from passive drones to high energy-force.

great post Brooks- very thought provoking (the best kind!) :)

Donna said...

This post may become my mantra in 2010 - I will definitely kick me in the butt anytime I don't feel like getting on the mat, or doing what needs to be done that I have been avoiding. Thanks for the wake up call!