It is said in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras that yoga is “Chitta vrittl nirodhah.” This means restraint of the mind. The way our whole being reacts to the atmosphere is the mind. This reaction is the psychic operation in us. To practice yoga, we have to understand the mind as it is in itself. The mind is not something outside of us, nor is it different from us. I am my mind and my mind is I. Therefore, yoga essentially focuses on spiritual integration through realization and transcendence of self, cultivating a strong, well-functioning body, and training the mind. By successfully building up the practice of yoga in this manner, we have to be planted on the ground with an unshakeable conviction towards yoga. We should have no doubt in the mind, having grounded ourselves firmly enough with this conviction, with this feeling that yoga is unavoidable in the course of any individual’s life.
Growing awareness of the relationship between the body and mind and emerging concepts of human consciousness forces us to take a close look at who we are; physically, mentally, and spiritually. We will discover our weak points. That way, we will be able to overcome obstacles with yoga practice.
Set up by the other constituents of his personality, Patanjali told us that there is a dullness of the entire constitution that may prevail sometimes, with which one has to be cautious. One of the major problems is doubt. It seems the majority of seekers have doubts in the mind. In such case, the seeker must have been jumping in to yoga suddenly and without guidance. Correct guidance is an unavoidable requisite in the path of yoga. That is why a system called “Gurukulava” was established from ancient times. This is where the Guru (teacher) is expected to know the student well. When a problem appears, the Guru will guide them properly.
Sleep is important in a student’s daily life. It is difficult to meditate or study while sleepy. Sleep is essential for the health of the body. One should not cut short of sleep beyond a certain limit, so that it does not trouble him during his practice. It is not the quantity of time that we devote that is important- It’s the quality of concentration, which is difficult if the mind is not prepared. This is why sleep and rest are a necessity.
If a student finds there is something seriously wrong and it is not possible for him to study, meditate, or talk to anyone he may close his practice for some time. He may need to recover first. Rest is part of yoga practice itself.
A yoga student, no matter how wise he may be, should not be careless when expressing his wisdom. He should only exercise his wisdom in a careful and humble manner, for the purpose of selfless service rather than building his own ego. This is essential in the art of yoga practice, and falls within the area of the responsibility of the Guru.
It is better to live unnoticed hen to become an object of attraction. An unnoticed person can live happily in life. Even in the practice of yoga, the student should live in the midst of Prakriti’s activities in an unnoticed manner. One should never boast, “I am a yoga student!” Prakriti does not like this pride.
Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras mention another difficulty likely to be encountered by yoga students- illusions. The yoga student may under the impression that he has had a vision from God in his meditation, and that he is seeing celestial visions, etc. Most of the colors, lights, or sounds in which people see or hear in intense concentration are the result of a pressure that is exerted from the prana, from concentration either by Pranayama or meditation. Perceptions of illusions should not be taken as a reality, and the seeker should guard him against thinking this way. Sometimes the seekers become attached to the illusions. The yoga seeker’s intention in yoga should not succumb to such false notions like being here to save mankind, etc. The ordinary yoga seeker should not imagine that saving mankind is his duty. These misplaced ideas should not arise in his mind.
The mind can become wild in such a way as to turn into an anti-social manifestation, outwardly as well as inwardly. Many people actually become insane on the yoga path due to extreme pressure exerted upon themselves, either deliberately or by compulsion of outer circumstances. Yoga students need to precede with the practice slowly, controlled, and cautiously, just like the way we practice our asanas.
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