yoga philo

Yoga Philosophy

Prior to the commencement of this course, I carried the misguided notion that the ‘Yoga Philosophy and Ethics’ Module would be rather elusive and made up of more ‘fluff’ than practicality. However, I was gladly proven wrong and sincerely astonished by the impact certain words of wisdom had left on me by just the end of the first week.

We started off by making sense of the definition of Yoga. ‘Yug’ stems from ‘Yuj’ which means ‘union’ and it refers to the amalgamation of the sensations of fluctuations in the mind. It can also be summarised by a profoundly elegant phrase: Yoga Citta Vritti Nirodhah. ‘Citta’ means consciousness which is the awareness of one’s own thoughts, sensations, surroundings, existence and the internal knowledge of a purposeful act. ‘Vritti’ refers to the mental distractions and fluctuations within us and ‘Nirodhah’ suggests minimisation of vritti. “Unfortunately, the word nirodhah has no words to describe in the English language. Nirodhah means disappearance of the mind on its own spontaneously, it does not mean stopping.” (Quote from training manual) One cannot move on unless he/she acts upon it now. There is no better time than now.

A good analogy would be a lake which represents one’s consciousness, citta. The wind gives rise to ripples atop the water surface which are disturbances, vritti. These are pretty much beyond our control since it involves surrounding changes. What we want to achieve would be from a state of water body that is choppy, muddy and dark to one that is still, clear and bright. When the mind is still, the vision is clear.

The mind is not a physical matter. Rather, it is a vehicle of our thought processes and we should always be in control of our mind, instead of the reverse. True integration of this concept can be translated into our asana practice. Only when we have self-awareness of our body, can we be in proper alignment and ‘hold the asana’. I found this to be particularly intriguing because as a muay thai practitioner, I have always been conditioned to repeat a move till it can be executed reflexively. This is simply because the outcome of a fight can be concluded instantaneously. Yes, it is a brain game while facing an opponent but the moment when fighters engage, it is a matter of letting instincts take over; mind over matter. Thus, it felt refreshing to be switching to an alternative mind-set and train from a new angle.

One thing is clear for now and that is I enjoy these lessons. :3

Thx for reading!

Zheng Huaimin

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