The Perfection in Yogic Balance by Mandy Wu
Trimurti Students and Graduates about Yoga…
Yoga as a practice in the modern age has surpassed record numbers. Of all the trends to take off from the east, yoga has risen in popularity especially rapidly over the last decade in the western world. However, yoga as a practice has deviated from it’s purest form as revealed in the original sutras and evolved to cater to a market hungry for Eastern wisdom. More often than not, the essence of these practices is lost in translation when it travels to the west.
In an age obsessed with aesthetic perfectionism, yoga has become a performance, creating a platform for narcissism on social media. This translates to the mat and the focus is on perfecting poses in a way that are pleasing to the eye instead of the journey of yoga as a practice as it was intended in its original form. In the pursuit of perfect practice it is essential to understand as a yogi that perfect practice is a constant goal and never a destination. Mastery of the physical body and the practice of asana lies on that fine line between holding on and letting go– both figuratively and literally. Yoga is after all the union of mind, body and soul and any aspect of this triad without the other two elements seems almost futile in its existence.
Yoga as it is commonly understood and sold in the west is a series of poses sequenced to physically benefit the body. However what hasn’t been conveyed thoroughly to the west is that true yoga in its purest form is a holy trinity of balancing the body, mind and soul. Developing the focus and discipline to master old asanas, so they may lay the foundation and building blocks for learning new ones. In the yoga sutras the pursuit of ultimate spiritual liberation is achieved through mastery of the body and mind. These involve daily exercises within and outside the individual.
Patanjali explains the yogic path as a series of spiritual practices which dictate our relationship with our physical, mental and spiritual reality.Samadhi can thus be understood as a combination of mental habits supported by physical ones.
To extend this philosophy further asanas should ideally be accompanied by pranayama and pratyhara. Pranayama is an entire system of breathing techniques to assist in regulation of the prana, or life force. This is to maximise the movement of energy within the physical body.
Pratyhara or sense withdrawal, is muting of the five senses for the emergence of the sixth. It is essentially preparation of the mind to access the subconscious whilst remaining conscious throughout the process. From this we move to dharana and dhyana – meditative thought and practice in the path to samadhi.
The macrocosm of the universe is the sum result of the microcosmic realities of the individuals which occupy its space. Thus yama and niyama, the virtues which we adopt to shape our families and communities should complement our spiritual paths as yogis. Put simply, this is right thought and right conduct, recognizing that our primary responsibility as sentient beings is to not harm others.
There is no such thing as perfection in asana or yoga practice. In fact, the closest one could get to this, is the recognition that yoga is ultimately a delicate balance of elements which make up the physical, mental and spiritual exercises of a yogi chasing after samadhi. Yoga is a perpetual pursuit of balance to reach the closest we can to our understanding of perfection.