On July Fourth, we will celebrate our country's independence as well as honor the warriors who made our freedom possible. We can also honor the warrior within each of us that fights for personal liberation and truth. Yoga is the chosen path for the inner warrior! It is only because of the fierceness of our inner warrior that we understand how to live with freedom, humility, and compassion. In our quest for peace, it may seem contradictory to tap into a warrior state of mind, but it is essential. The Sanskrit scholar and renowned yoga philosophy teacher, Manorama, often tells stories of her cherished guru, Shri Brahmandanda Saraswati, and quotes his wisdom. She tells students that he would say, “Every morning is a battle. . . against the snooze.” With these words, we are lightheartedly reminded that we need fervor within us to even get up in the morning. It is through fierceness that we cultivate the courage to seek a deep understanding of our own true nature and find our authentic expression of humility and gentleness.
According to Master Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra, the practices of yoga help us cultivate the skills to be a spiritual warrior that is both fierce and humble. The first sutra, or verse, in the 2nd chapter of this sacred text instructs that the preliminary practices of yoga should be tapah svādhyāya-Īśvarapranidhānāni. The first step is tapah – tapas- which literally means “to burn or create heat.” Tapas is the burning desire to understand one’s own nature that fuels discipline and purifies the heart. The first practice for a yogi should be to fiercely pursue Truth.
The Sanskrit word svādhyāya means “study.” There are many ways and subjects to study, but here, Patanjali is referring to study that concerns the true Self. Whether spiritual books, metaphysics, psychology, or even studying the way a flower blooms, svādhyāya is when we study anything that elevates our minds and reminds us of our true Self. When a practice starts with a fierce pursuit of Truth, one will be able to discern between activities and resources that distract and indulge the ego, and those that uplift the mind from its habitual confliction. Absolute clarity is a warrior's most essential attribute when navigating through life's daily battles.
The final step in beginning a yoga practice is Īśvarapranidhāna, devotion to the highest Self. Īśvara can be translated to mean “Supreme Being” or “Supreme Consciousness.” We must dedicate all our efforts and the goodness that comes from those efforts to our highest nature, which is limitless, expansive, and Divine. If we cannot see this within ourselves yet, then we can dedicate our efforts to others, or even all of creation. This part of the sutra can be translated as “devotion to God,” so if that resonates more within a yogi, that is where the dedication is placed. Dedication is true Yoga. It asks of us deep humility and understanding to see that everything we need is already within us, therefore everything else we have can be an offering.
Find the warrior within this month at Longwave Yoga and cultivate discipline in your practice. One of the best places to start this is on your mat. But when you are off the mat, carve out space to spend time with books, lectures, and films that remind you of your highest Self, and make a dedication of your efforts.
We are so fortunate to be hosting the world-renowned Manorama this month for a two-day exploration of the Inner Warrior through the epic story Bhagavad Gita. Register for this incredible opportunity HERE.
Let’s get fierce so that we can break through any walls that keep us from our true natures! We will see you spiritual warriors on the mat.