PranVayu Yoga uses a combination of highly effective physical training techniques and a Buddhist inspired philosophy of universal interconnectedness to help us realize our highest potential as yoga practitioners and amazing human beings. Our whole practice is founded on the belief that a yoga practice is the most transformational when it addresses both the body AND the mind. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against the exhilirating feeling of a handstand or a drop back into the wheel, (in fact, I live for both!) but being able to supplement our physical practices with meditation and the more spiritual aspects of a yoga practice can be incredibly uplifting.
I plan on using this blog as a platform to present different topics that we regularly explore in PVYU Yoga classes and workshops. I’ll be posting video clips that will show you how to apply our system of alignment to common postures in your practice, and from time to time, I’ll throw out some information that will help you learn how to how to squiggle into some of those crazy tricky poses you’ve been wondering about. To supplement the spiritual side of your practice, I’ll write occasional posts on Buddhist slogans that have inspired my own personal path of practice and teaching.
And so, here’s a first go at a commentary on a quote from one of my favorite authors, Sakya Pandita. For me his “Collection of Good Advice” has been amazingly inspirational. I like this quote in particular:
The wise who nourish a treasury of good qualities
Gather to themselves precious good advice
The great ocean is a treasury of rivers
To which all running waters descend
My take on this:
Buddhist teachings tell us that we can cultivate our own best qualities if we are willing to seek out wisdom from those who have walked the path themselves, and then put this good advice into practice. From my end, I know that I’ve read heaps of great tips on how to live a better life, but most of the time I’m pretty slow to put any of this advice into practice. I, like everybody else know quite well that the “early bird gets the worm”, but I find myself nevertheless hitting the snooze button long after the first alarm of the morning every single day….
We’ve all collected hundreds of tips on how to best live our lives, but how many of us actually take the opportunity to put these things into practice?
I think that a yoga practice provides a perfect opportunity to start this integrative practice and to begin to apply the practical wisdom that we’ve accumulated into our lives. When we’re on the mat, we have fewer distractions than we do in real life, so it’s easier to practice new habits and ways of being by including them into our physical and mental training. It’s a little like spring training in baseball… you work like crazy in a lower pressure situation so that you can succeed when the stakes are high.
We can for example, practice patience when on the mat. The Buddhist yogis claim that patience can help us achieve the ability to receive harm without returning it. A yoga practice is a prime opportunity to experience this for ourselves. When burning sweat drips in our eyes, or our legs feel like they’re going to light on fire, we can practice remaining calm, focused and non-reactive as we deal with these situations as calmly as possible. At the end of our practice we can spend five or ten minutes contemplating the benefits of patience in our lives, or practicing meditative contemplations on loving-kindness to act as an antidote to any anger that we might experience when we’re harmed by another.
In my experience, I’ve notice that using my yoga practice to integrate patience will not necessarily make it EASY to react positively in a challenging situation, but it does make it EASIER. I’ve notice that practicing ahead of time makes it more likely that I will be able to stay calm and non-reactive when somebody decides to get up in my grill. On the other hand I find that if I wait until I’m jammed into the middle of one of the situations to practice, it’s usually too late. I usually find myself saying something annoying, inflammatory or totally counterproductive before I even know what’s hit me. In my experience practicing patience ahead of time gives me a better chance of succeeding when the stakes are high. As far as I’m concerned, some chance is better than no chance at all!
I use this slogan to remind myself that when we’re willing to seek out and apply those pieces of advice that help us understand how to cultivate the best in ourselves, we gradually build up a storehouse of wisdom that helps us to see which types of activities are beneficial, and which types of things must be avoided if we wish to be happy in daily life. Ultimately, as we continuously refine our actions based on this understanding and put these lessons into practice, we experience better results and a happy, peaceful life flows to us as naturally as rivers flow into the sea.