Hatha Yoga: Building a Different Kind of Toughness
Within the fundamental principles of yama and niyama, one important aspect is Ishwara pranidhyana, which means to constantly acknowledge an intelligence beyond yourself. It means to know where your will ends, and where another dimension, which nurtures us, which is the basis of our existence, begins. Yoga is about seamlessly playing between these two – individual will and intelligence, and the universality of our existence.
Take Charge of Your Drama
For many people, their body, mind, and emotions are making up some kind of drama all the time. This drama includes your psychological scape, your perception, and your experience. The way the world is playing within you, how you see, hear, taste, or smell – all this is your drama. Another creature would not experience it the same way. People’s perceptional drama is not necessarily always in line with reality. If your chemistry plays up in a certain way, everything looks different. Some people are going through psychological issues where the entire reality changes in their experience, and doctors are trying to fix it with some kinds of chemicals.
Yoga is a dimension where even the simplest physical postures can lead to a profound understanding of how to take charge of this drama. What we are trying to do is to get a hold on this drama, understand the source of this drama and direct it as you want, not only in terms of thoughts and emotions but in terms of your very perception. Through the yogic process, you can take charge of how you see things and how deeply you see things, and how profoundly or profanely you experience life. That will not come with the surface activity of twisting and turning your body. It needs enormous involvement.
The only reason why the entire humanity is not enlightened is lack of involvement. Lack of involvement comes from the fear of suffering. You involve yourself in what you like or know, or what you consider as pleasant. You do not involve yourself in what you do not like or know, or what you consider as unpleasant. This discriminatory process creates lack of involvement. Early morning yoga may not be pleasant, but to be absolutely involved without discriminating between what you like and dislike is the answer. A neem ball may not be something that you like, but to be involved with it, to integrate it within yourself, is fundamental to creating a sense of involvement. As your involvement becomes profound, your experience also becomes profound. The doors of existence, of which there are many layers, open one by one if you show the necessary involvement.
There are many compulsions and limitations you have to face to make things happen in the world. All these things will have an impact on you, unless you know how to involve yourself in just everything, without fear of failure. Establish involvement without discrimination, which means simply doing whatever is needed – not doing more of what you like and less of what you do not like.
This is about bringing a sense of vairagya into your life. The entire Indian culture has grown from vairagya, though this is changing rapidly today. Raga means “color,” vai means to be beyond that. So vairagya means “beyond color”– in other words, to become transparent. If the background behind you is blue, you become blue; if the background is red, you become red. If you are transparent, you can take on and experience every possible color in the universe without a trace of that color being left in you. You are absolutely involved in the process of life but remain untouched by it. Or in other words, life does not leave a scratch upon you. Unless you have this freedom, you will not be able to deepen your experience of life.
Editor’s Note: Isha Hatha Yoga programs are an extensive exploration of classical hatha yoga, which revive various dimensions of this ancient science that are largely absent in the world today. These programs offer an unparalleled opportunity to explore Upa-yoga, Angamardana, Surya Kriya, Surya Shakti, Yogasanas and Bhuta Shuddhi, among other potent yogic practices.