The Science of Yoga

Science is the study of the phenomenal world – that which can be measured and quantified.  And Yoga is the Science of studying the one who is measuring and quantifying.  In Yoga, we observe the Observer.  We can’t take ourselves out of the equation. Therefore we practice “Svadhyaya” – self-study and we Witness the comings and goings of the mind with respect and love.

Yoga Illumined, Yoga Teacher Training, Yoga Black Lagoon, Svadhyaya, This past weekend at Yoga Illumined – Gallery Black Lagoon, we studied the Yamas and Niyamas – the first two limbs of the 8-limb system of Yoga.  One of the Niyamas is Svadhyaya – self-study and/or the study of Scriptures.  Ultimately, the aim of all Holy Scriptures is to teach us about ourselves and who we really are.

On one level, it is extremely humbling to study and chant texts like The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali – a text that describes the nature of consciousness and ultimate liberation.  The attainment of Enlightenment can seem so out of place in our modern, busy lives, careers and families.  On another level, the Sutras show us that the attainment of Samadhi, liberation, enlightenment CAN only happen in the context of our busy, everyday lives.  I see it like this:  I am the experiment as well as the Scientist observing the transformation when I apply the Yoga practices to myself.

Let’s look at the practice of “Pratipaksha Bhavanam,” – described in Chapter 2 of the Yoga Sutras.

From Swami J’s web site:  Chapter 2, Sutra 33 of The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

Vitarka badhane pratipaksha bhavanam
  • vitarka = troublesome thoughts, deviating (from the yamas and niyamas)
  • badhane = disturbed by, inhibited by
  • pratipaksha = to the contrary, opposite thoughts or principles
  • bhavanam = cultivate, habituate, thought of, contemplate on, reflect on

This Sutra suggests that when negativity arises, rather than wallowing in it, I the observer, suggest its opposite.  I experiment.  And see what happens.

For example, whenever I feel or hear thoughts like:  “Life is difficult, confusing.  I hate the cold.  I hate traffic,” I don’t necessarily follow these thoughts.  Instead, I stop.  I breathe in and breathe out and I say these thoughts instead:  “I am freedom from every limitation, I am the principle of timeless awareness.”  (I got this from Ramakrishna).

And voila!  I find that it works.  I feel better.  I breathe better.  I have an appreciation for my car, my job, my life, my day-to-day and the people around me.  I stand in a field of golden light wading through traffic with a song in my heart.  “Pratipaksha bhavanam” is part of the magical alchemy of Yoga.

Try it for yourself.
You are the Scientist conducting the Experiment on your own Mind.

Om shantih om,


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