Effort, Awareness, and Joy

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Sorry a little late with this next edition of Tree of Yoga bookclub blog…with a short weekend getaway and almost losing my dog, I have been trying to get back in to the swing of things…

The next section gets down to the practical applications of the 8 limbs of yoga and how they fit into this tree metaphor. I am using the title from the next chapter in review as I think it sums up our journey of yoga perfectly. We need to put effort in, build our awareness, and in the end we will reap the benefits of pure joy!

The first couple of Chapter in Part 2 cover the “HOW” element of practice before embarking on the description of the practice itself. Words that jump out at me to think about are : focus, concentration, direction, extension, analysis, and experimentation. If all of these qualities imbibe your practice, you will start down the right path of transformation through yoga.

“The Depth of Asana” chapter then covers the layers and levels that asana is effective on…”The body cannot be separated from the mind, nor can the mind be separated from the soul. No one can define the boundaries between them,” (pg 46) So, BKS Iyengar first reminds us of levels of practice and the layers of our being that we are working within:

Levels of Practice

  • Conative : Peripheral : Physical
  • Cognitive : Perceptive : Being sensitive with skin and other sense organs
  • Communicative : Reflective : Discriminative mind observing and analyzing
  • Spiritual : Fully Aware : Embodied practice

Layers of Being: Koshas (veils or sheaths) and Sariras (“bodies”)

  • Sthula-sarira : Annamaya Kosha : Phyiscal Body and Anatomical Sheath
  • Suksma-sarira (subtle body) : Pranamaya Kosha (physiological or organic sheath), Monomaya Kosha (mental sheath), and Vijnanamaya Kosha (intellectual or discriminative sheath)
  • Karana-sarira (causal body) : Anandamaya Kosha : Blissful and Spiritual Sheath

With this more “integrated” effort and understanding on all levels and with all layers, your yoga practice will deepen and become more saturated with understanding and intensity.

Then begins the planting of the tree in regards to our practice. I will not elaborate on these topics as I think that in reading Tree of Yoga they are clear…plus you are able to easily find and research these more common 8-limbs of Yoga Practice with a brief Google search if you need clarity…

It is however important to recognize the Yamas and Niyamas as the roots and the trunk of the tree of practice…without the roots or a trunk a tree would not exist…the icon of a tree has both of these, though the branches and the bark and the rest may differ in practice, to BE a tree, roots and a trunk are a necessity. So with yoga practice. The moral precepts (Yamas) and the personal observances (Niyamas) are what will make your practice accessible and strong or built on shaky foundation. Not eating well, being deceitful, hurting others, not reflecting on self and action, and not putting in desired effort, etc…will all be cracks where we lose some of the effectiveness of practice.

It is important to look at those roots and plant them as deeply as possible in order to get a more stable trunk. Will it always be perfect? Probably not, but that is why effort and awareness are keys to that joy we seek through practice. As you read these chapters, reflect on where you are strong and where you are weak. What levels and layers is your practice working on and can you go deeper? Be more integrated?

Happy Reading and Happy Practicing!

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