Teaching Ashtanga,  Uncategorized,  Yoga Philosophy,  Yoga Sutras

Yoga Sutras For Modern Day Life: Your Life, Your Evolution

Yoga Sutras of Patanjali 2:23: The union of owner and owned causes the recognition of the nature and powers of them both.

Defining the Sutra:

There cannot be an up without a down. Understanding sweet helps us understand soar. Without wet, we don’t understand dry. Separation gives us a deeper awareness of our full potential and gives us access to a broader variety and depth of experience.

In Yoga philosophy, consciousness and nature came together because by themselves, they could not have a full experience.  By coming together, their full power could be witnessed.


Modern Day Application

Here is a simplistic example. Today I did wheel drop backs and catching with a few students who swore up and down that their arms were not winging out but they definitely were winged out. Without the union of teacher and student, they would not have known what their arms were doing.

If I was fully 100% connected with the students and we were acting as one, I would have felt what they felt. I would have sworn that our elbows were turned back. It was only because of our separation that I could observe the arms.

I met several Yogis in India who had no desire to reach Samadhi  because it meant becoming like a baby. An important part of a child’s development is their ability to tell the difference between where their bodies end and their mother’s body begins. Without this awareness, they don’t explore their bodies and learn how to use them.  Many famous sages, like Ramana Maharishi, at certain points, went so deep into Samadhi that other people had to take care of their physical bodies.

In giving us the ability to experience contrast, nature did not make a mistake. We can not fully experience this universe without it.


Why It is Important

Contrast and separation are tools for awareness.  It is in times of great contrast that we wake up. When we see a beautiful sunset, eat something new, or fall in love, our life gains depth. The same happens when we experience painful contrasts like ill health, the loss of a job or the death of a loved one. Yoga Sutras 2:21 states “all experiences are for the sake of the seer.” Every event in our lives is for our evolution.

Picture by Wanda Koch Photography


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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