The rain could have another effect on my drowsy tendencies this morning as well, but either way I was content to sit on the porch to drink my coffee and read my book. I'm making it more slowly through this one than Maehle's book on pranayama. Mostly because I've never been good at reading multiple books at once. I like to delve myself into one particular book until it's finished, but I'm exploring two right now. Well if you count textbooks it's technically five books, but those aren't for fun or pleasure.
Anyways, my thoughts thus far on this wonderful book...
I would have loved to practice with or even be taught by Iyengar. His stance on yoga in this book fascinates me. I guess my fascination comes into play with the religious tie-ins throughout the text. While yoga is not based in religion and religion not necessarily based in yoga, there are a lot of things that coincide with one another from the two different aspects.
For instance, when Iyengar begins his dictation of the eight limbs of yoga he, of course, begins with Yama (the first limb) and tells about each of the subheadings that fall within yama. The first of which is ahisma (non-violence). I guess because I'm Christian, I can find all the different facets/ways that these aspects of the limbs of yoga can relate to the ten commandments, because ahisma is similar to the commandment 'Thou Shalt Not Kill'. Iyengar writes, "the yogi believes that to kill or to destroy a thing or being is to insult its Creator." That line caught my eye and stuck with me. Only yoga takes it further than just killing. Ahisma also relates to harming others with words thoughts or deeds, and a yogi refrains from harming others in any way. He/she believes that, even though one may be evil, they can be brought to light and forgiven. A yogi is supposed to help others rather than subject them to prejudice.
Sounds a lot like Jesus, does it not? Speaking of, Anthony Grim posted recently a blog concerning the Orthodox Church that is a pretty interesting read concerning Jesus and yoga. It can be found here.
Next, after ahisma, the book moves into satya or truth. Kind of like the saying, "the truth shall set you free," the same concept applies here. However, Iyengar covers not only speech, but also thoughts. He describes four sins of speech though: "abuse and obscenity, dealing in falsehoods, calumny or telling tales and lastly ridiculing what others hold to be sacred" and then goes further to state, "the man firmly established in truth gets the fruit of his actions without apparently doing anything. God, the source of all truth, supplies his needs and looks after his welfare." To me, so far, this is all reminiscent of the Bible and all the things it describes for us from God.
Moving forward though, we find asteya or non-stealing. This section, though, covers the act of not coveting anthers life, belonging, or attempting to take what others have. What shocked me the most, I think, was the fact that Iyengar even stated, "He who obeys the commandment Thou shalt not steal, becomes a trusted repository of all treasure." (My bold) So interesting to read it as I am making my own connections.
The next one I have a little trouble understanding. Bramacharya, while I understand it to mean the life of celibacy, religious study and self-restraint. The celibacy still throws me off. Mainly, because marriage isn't thwarted off, but encouraged because "without experiencing human love and happiness, it is not possible to know divine love." So my question is, basically, does one practice celibacy at certain times? Or is marriage, in itself, a form of celibacy since one is no longer tempted by others during bachelor/bachelorette life? The religious study and self-restraint aspect is a bit easier to understand. I think the only saving grace for a bit of understanding is when Iyengar writes, "the brahmachari will use the forces he generates wisely; he will utilize the physical ones for doing the work of the Lord, the mental for the spread of culture and the intellectual for the growth of spiritual life."
Lastly, but certainly not least, we read about aparigraha or non-hoarding. My basic understanding of this sub-limb of Yama, means that one should not hold worldly possessions close to ones heart. Rid oneself of material attachments to become closer to God. He will provide us with all that we need and therefore do not need to hoard worldly attachments in an attempt to feel successful or even worthy of others approval. Many men/women crave the need for more objects and possessions and then will end up focusing more on their possessions than on the Lord. Relinquish all ties to this world because we are only a passing through as we make our way home to God. There are a lot of things that clutter our lives just as much as they clutter our home. Think of Spring cleaning as a way to rid yourself of attachments that aren't being used. If you go through your belongings and come across things that have dust on them or you haven't used them on a daily basis, chances are you're hoarding it merely because you want to keep it not because you're using it. Give it to someone else who you think might benefit from its use and keep moving with your daily life.
I only made it through the discussion on Yama and felt it best to stop there and digest what I had read. I will work through Niyama tomorrow, either before or after my practice. I hope to be able to practice later this afternoon— if my body feels up to it at least. I was given some information pertaining to my discomfort in Utanasana and I'm going to give it a shot to see how it works out. Therefore, in substitution for Utanasana I'm going to try Malasana. It may or may not feel comfortable but it's worth a shot if I find myself feeling discomfort in Utanasana again.