When yoga teachers talk about being non-competitive, this does not reflect some utopian idealism, but a down-to-earth pragmatism. A sense of space provides sufficient disentanglement from our formations, compulsion lessens, and the opportunity to respond begins. This is the beginning of what yoga poetically describes as ‘Ishvara Pranidhanna’: surrender or dedication to God, or handing over to intuitive, creative action.
Carry on in hard times with the steady influence of yoga practice and study. At times there is joy, at times there is sorrow, but let there be always practice and study, and yoga will illuminate your life, and also life will illuminate your yoga.
To be a great teacher, you don’t have to be always happy, but only keep yoga going, even if you are confused, sad and tired. Then you will know how to teach when your students are confused, sad or tired.
Sabbe sattaa sukhi hontu is a Pali phrase meaning ‘May all beings be well (or happy)’. It’s not, properly speaking, a mantra. It’s a chant that is used in exactly the same way as a mantra. Unlike most mantras, it has a definite grammatical meaning.
Sabbe = all
Sattaa = beings
Sukhi = happy, well
Hontu = may they be
Letting ourselves be happy is at once the simplest thing in the world but it can also be a challenge. At this time of year, the season itself calls us to be joyful and so we may meet this juncture within ourselves.
There are two doors before us: one is surrender and one resistance, one is a saying yes to the calling to live, to engage, to communicate; and the other calling us to protect ourselves by keeping our selves removed.
When we follow teachers’ instructions, or recall a focus point from a book, we need to add some limitation, some framework or context, in which the instructions can be followed in a way which is conducive to yoga’s principle of gathering the senses in (Pratyahara).
Could it be that spring has come?
Well we all know not to count our chickens before they’re hatched but it is hard to resist a little internal fluttering as we move from snow drops to crocuses to daffodils, and as the dark nights finally become shorter.
Summer is a time of rapid fruition and accelerated growth. It is a time when we begin reaching out to one another, perhaps enjoying more social events and reconnecting with nature at its most abundant. The word abundance here represents not a set of external conditions but an attitude.
July is the month when Dharma day is celebrated by Buddhists around the world, a day which marks the first teaching to the Buddha’s original five disciples, which is known as ‘The First Turning of the Wheel of the Dharma (Dharmachakra).’ Dharma day is now seen as a chance to express gratitude that the Buddha, and other enlightened teachers, have shared their knowledge with others.
This is the time of year where darkness no longer dominates light and the balance, grain by grain, is being redressed and even tipped over to favour the light. It is essentially an optimistic time with all the promise of the forthcoming months ahead.