Embodying the sutra
As interpreted by Amy Ippoliti
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.