Yoga is a philosophy of discipline and meditation ...
- N. Modi
Philosophy is the study of the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality, and existence, or the theoretical basis for a particular branch of knowledge or experience. In this light, yoga as philosophy is an ongoing study of theories. Yeah?
Yoga as a practice is designed as a means to an end. The physical postures, the asanas, what we call "yoga poses" were developed over time (by some counts up to 6,000 years ago) as a way to get the body ready for meditation.
When we reach the end of a typical vinyasa flow class, it's common practice to assume savasana (Shavasana, sivasana, etc. These are all basically phonetic adaptations of Sanskrit to English.), or corpse pose (the namesake of this blog). Corpse pose is, in my experience, usually 2 to 5 minutes, sometimes longer. It's a chance for us to calm the mind and relax the body. It's a form of meditation.
I've been trying to take that state and walk it home to the backyard meditation room. I say trying because I actually do this roughly two to three times a week - which ain't bad, but ain't optimal.
When I take the time and effort to walk the meditative state home after a yoga practice, I find that the meditation is deeper and easier. It turns out that the process works.
The process seems to work in changing the state of mind. I think, over time, this process might actually work to change traits as well, ingraining the benefits of yoga and meditation deep in the mind and body. This isn't simply a belief on my part, but it appears to be well supported by science. Daniel Goleman's fantastic read, "Altered Traits - Science Reveals How Meditation Changes Your Mind, Brain, and Body," goes into great detail about the trait changes that can manifest through a longtime meditative practice.
A yoga teacher said to me the other day, "Sometimes you just have to accept the magic." As Fox Mulder would say, "I want to believe," but I have a notion (me being me) that what we often call magic is usually backed up by some branch of science.
While I want to believe in magic, I'm more inclined to search for explanations for phenomena that may feel or seem like magic. I want to believe in magic, so I'll keep an open mind. I want to believe in magic, but more than that, I want to find truth. (More on truth in another post.)
Philosophically, I consider my yoga journey to be one of study. Trying to learn more about the nature of the accrued knowledge of yoga. Trying to realize more about the reality of this life. Trying to understand more about this existence. Attempting to discover more about the theoretical basis for yoga.