Em­body­ing the su­tra

As in­ter­preted by Amy Ip­politi

Yoga Journal - - PRACTICE WELL -

Then the seer dwells in its own na­ture.” YOGA SU­TRA 1.3

Su­tra 1.3 is of­ten

taught along with a vis­ual of a moun­tain re­flected in the sur­face of a lake. The moun­tain sym­bol­izes your eter­nal self, or your soul ( pu­rusha); the lake per­son­i­fies your con­scious­ness ( citta); and the rip­ples and move­ments of the wa­ter rep­re­sent your thoughts and feel­ings ( vrit­tis). When the

sur­face of the lake is calm, like a mir­ror, the moun­tain can be seen clearly. As the wind picks up or fish swim by, the moun­tain re­flec­tion, while still vis­i­ble, can ap­pear blurred. Even on the calmest day, the move­ment of wa­ter never stops—the same way the move­ments of the mind never cease.

The chal­lenge, then, is to dwell in your own na­ture (i.e. see the moun­tain’s re­flec­tion), while en­gag­ing your thoughts and feel­ings (the move­ments in the wa­ter). That’s the pur­pose of yoga: to help you un­der­stand all parts of your na­ture along­side the many fluc­tu­a­tions of the mind. Yoga will help you know your self, soul, and con­scious­ness so adeptly that you’ll al­ways have a pal­pa­ble grasp of who you are. To pre­pare to re­ceive what­ever the uni­verse presents to you, prac­tice Padma Mu­dra (Lo­tus Seal): Bring your hands to­gether in front of your chest and spread your fin­gers. Press into your thumbs and pinky fin­gers, and open the other three fin­gers so they re­sem­ble the petals of a lo­tus flower. This ges­ture is a sym­bol of your con­scious­ness, and the flower’s many un­furl­ing petals mir­ror your own broad­en­ing ca­pac­ity for self-aware­ness. Now, lis­ten to your soul and hear your own heart. When we know our­selves this in­ti­mately, our choices and pri­or­i­ties be­come more clear. Then, like the moun­tain lu­cidly re­flected in the lake, you’ll be able to meet your thoughts and feel­ings with clar­ity and self-as­sur­ance. As a re­sult, it’s pos­si­ble to live a more cre­ative, ful­fill­ing, and pro­duc­tive life, leav­ing be­hind a pos­i­tive legacy for oth­ers.

TO EX­PLORE an asana prac­tice that em­bod­ies this su­tra and helps in­spire self-aware­ness, turn to page 55.

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