atha yogānuśāsanam - I.1 

 
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atha yogānuśāsanam - I.1 

Yoga is a natural phenomenon. Yogānuśāsanam are the principles according to which this phenomenon manifests.

Yoga is the restriction of mental activity, concentration on a single point or the complete elimination of all contents of consciousness. When this happens, we are at one with ourselves, we understand ourselves to be of the nature of pure consciousness or awareness.

It sounds like this should be quite easy or natural but anyone who attempts to meditate will soon come to recognize that the mind resists tranquility, it always wants to move. As a result we never experience ourselves as we truly are, but as fused with experience that is mediated by the mind. 

Why?

According to yogis, there was a time in history when complete tranquility of mind was achieved naturally and regularly. It was considered to be one of four mental states that follow a daily cycle: the waking state, the dreaming state, the deep sleep state and the fourth state, also known as samadhi.

At this period in man's evolution, there was a wholesome relationship with the rhythms and cycles of nature. Like animals, humans would go to sleep at sunset and wake at sunrise, they would eat when hungry, mate in season and live in simplicity and in harmony with nature.

Today we stay awake late after the sun sets, do not sleep enough, eat many unhealthy foods, pursue many unhealthy practices and suffer physical and mental sickness and ill health.  

Stimulants and depressives afflict the mind constantly and seldom do we experience balance, true peace and tranquility. These are the qualities required for the restriction of mental activity that is the state of samadhi.

So the natural state of yoga or samadhi is negated by unnatural habits. Although yoga practice looks like a structured and evolving edifice that leads a practitioner step by step through stages, in fact, yoga is more of an undoing, an uncovering, a release of stress to reveal something that is natural and innate.

Yoga practices do not lead to yoga, yoga happens when the practices release tensions that prevent yoga from manifesting. The phenomenon is natural. All you need to do is sit - we have just forgotten how to sit quietly.

guy donahaye