Teaching Ashtanga,  Yoga Philosophy

Your Yoga Practice is a Weapon

Now, this is neither easy nor difficult. It is just simple. It is so simple that your mind-which is being pulled and pushed by so many factors, which is functioning within the limitations that you have gathered, where you have made your limitations gold plated-is just confused. If you stop gold plating your limitations, if you stop seeing your shackles as ornaments that you wear and are proud of, then it is very simple and you are on fulltime. Please see how many deceptive ways you seek support for your limitations from the people around you. You want approval for your limitations. You want these hindrances to be thought of as all right. -Sadhguru, Midnights with the Mystics.

When you are on your mat, don’t gold plate your limitations. Quit telling the story that further cements doubt. As the opening mantra states, the practice is a jungle physician pacifying the poisons in your mind and taking you to a place deep into your heart where your limitless nature resides. The weapons of the jungle physician are the sword, to cut through illusion, the conch, which amplifies the pure voice deep within, and the discus, which through repetitive turning gives us mastery over our actions and allows us to exit the cycle of suffering.

Continuously telling a negative story is like drinking poison and drawing it deep within your heart.  You have put down the weapons of righteousness, given to you by Patanjali, your teachers and the yoga practice and left your heart and mind undefended.

Every time you say the mantra, be reminded to take up your weapons. When you start to gird yourself with the stories of how tight you are, how old you are, how weak you are, how you will never be good enough, take up your sword, discus and conch and fight.




vande gurunam charanaravinde
sandarsita svatmasukhava bodhe
nihsreyase jangalikayamane
samsara halahala mohasantyai

abahu purusakaram
sankhacakrasi dharinam
sahasra sirasam svetam
pranamami patanjalim


I bow to the lotus feet of the Gurus
The awakening happiness of one’s own Self revealed
Beyond better, acting like the Jungle physician
Pacifying delusion, the poison of Samsara
Taking the form of a man to the shoulders
Holding a conch, a discus, and a sword
One thousand heads white
To Pantanjali, I salute.





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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