- Kindness to those who are happy, compassion for those who are less fortunate, honour for those who embody noble qualities, equanimity to those whose actions oppose your values.
- Slow, easeful exhalations can be used to restore and preserve balance.
- Or engage the focus on an inspiring object.
- Or cultivate devotion to the supreme, ever blissful Light within.
- Or receive grace from a great soul, who exudes Divine qualities.
- Or reflect on a peaceful feeling from an experience, a dream, or deep sleep.
- Or dedicate yourself to anything that elevates or embraces your heart.
In this wonderful group of sutras Patanjali gives us a number of helpful practices to regain balance and equanimity when we find ourselves lost in doubt or confusion. Some of them are quite simple and can be approached by a beginner on the path; such as working with slow easeful exhalations when agitated or restless. Others are quite advanced as they require us to observe our attitudes and reactive tendencies in regards to the people we interact with.
What I love about these suggestions from Sri Patanjali is that they are as relevant to Hatha Yoga students today as they were to the practitioners of Raja Yoga in Patanjali’s era. Indeed they are helpful for everyone regardless of whether they have a formal yoga practice or not- because they are universal practices used to address a universal issue – lack of balance. We all find ourselves out of balance at times, it is part of the play of life. It is also part of the play to discover and to nourish supportive practices that bring us back into connection with ourselves.
As modern-day yogis we are blessed to have an abundance of knowledge available to us. Ancient wisdom and sacred practices are no longer only shared with the chosen few- they are available to all who go looking for them. But don’t get caught in thinking that just because a practice is considered sacred or is incredibly ancient that it has more power than the practices you have discovered for yourself. Walking the beach, sweeping the floor, playing in your garden, doing the laundry, preparing dinner for your family, reading to your child, napping with the cat, taking the time to share a moment with your neighbour…all of these can be used as an opportunity for mindful practice and can be just as powerful as chanting OM on your meditation cushion. All of these and so many other everyday moments can be used to strengthen your practice of yoga and bring you back to center. You may truly be too busy to get to a yoga class at your local studio, but you are never too busy to practice yoga.
Yoga is in the everyday. In the sacred as well as the mundane. Dedicate yourself to both equally and you will find you have a thousand ways to practice and endless opportunities for enjoying the play of life. Imbalance and all.