Uncategorized,  Yoga Philosophy,  Yoga Sutras

Don’t Sweat the Technique

I speak in discreet cause talk is cheap
Then I get deep in the beat then completes
Compose with physique never weak or obsolete
They never grow old technique’s become antique
Better then something brand new cause it’s original
In a while the style, I have much more value
Classical to intelligent to be radical
Masterful never irrelevant mathematical
Here’s some soothing souvenirs
For all the years you taught to sought the thoughts and ideas
It’s cool when you freak to the beat
But don’t sweat the technique

Eric B and Rakim


Before I start, these concepts are hard to talk about using words. They are just pointers.

Last week, I wrote about how yoga is not a religion. I received many wonderful comments on FB, some to my personal messenger, talking about the presence of Isvara or God in yoga. Yes, this is true. Yoga is still not a religion and I will tell you why in two words, objectless samadhi

According to Patanjali, objectless samadhi is the end goal for yoga. Objectless samadhi is samadhi without cause. Meaning that you don’t get there with techniques, objects, or with help. If you get to samadhi by meditation, God or reading an Eckhart Tolle passage, it is with an object or with cause. Samadhi with objects is awesome. They are the building blocks to samadhi without one. They are not to be belittled. They are all still wonderful. They, however, are not the final samadhi.

All of the techniques point us to objectless samadhi but they are not objectless samadhi. In this state, there is no you or me. Everything is. It is pure absorption.  If there is a me and God, then there are two.  This is not absorption. For there to be absorption, there is no me. There is no God.

In the Sutras, Isvara, sometimes called God, is not a limited concept.  Meaning that she/he is not limited to concepts that are frequently taught in religion. Patanjali gives some pointers to Isvara but they are purposely broad because Isvara is a tool for liberation. What each person relates to is going to be different.  Just like some people resonate with Iyengar yoga, some with Ashtanga yoga and others with Kundalini yoga, the concept of God is according to what speaks to you.   Whatever is going to help you persevere with faith and devotion.  Some people find that in the forest. Some in a building with a steeple. The Yoga Sutras says that is up to you.

That is what it comes down to. What is going to keep you on the path. What is going to keep you connected. Eventually, you let go of that connection and step into the place of purusha/consciousness alone.  You are no longer connected to consciousness. You are consciousness.  Some people will do it through meditation. Some through prayer. Some will connect through terrible pain and sorrow.

However, it is important to not “sweat the technique.” The technique leads us, but it is not the end result.  We use a hammer to build a house. The hammer is not the end result. The house is.  We may use asana, God, meditation or pranayama to let go of our feeling of separation from purusha, but these are not the end result. Pure being-ness is.

Last week’s article was about,  “sweating” the idea of perfection to the point that we cannot see the forest for the trees.  The guru is not the yoga. Handstand is not the yoga. Alignment techniques are not the yoga. They all point to it. Yoga is the “cessation of the fluctuations of the mind” aka samadhi.  Don’t sweat the technique so much that you forget this.

Shanna Small has been practicing Ashtanga Yoga and studying the Yoga Sutras since 2001. She has studied in Mysore with Sharath Jois and is the Director of AYS Charlotte, a school for traditional Ashtanga in Charlotte NC. She has written for Yoga International and the Ashtanga Dispatch. Go here for more information on AYS Charlotte. For information on workshops, please e-mail shanna@ashtangayogaproject.com.


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