BY JOHN WEST
Yoga is so much more than moving yourself into various asanas (postures). Varied movement of any sort delivers benefits for daily living and is an essential strategy to prevent body malfunctions and the chronic pain that can follow. Yoga asana can deliver in that regard.
classes, or on a much grander scale, “I can dig a bigger hole in the earths crust than others” or “I can cut down this forest because doing so will make me ridiculously wealthy”. These are some of the negative connotations of ego but let’s be clear, ego can be used for good as well as evil or greed.
If we dig just below the surface of asana, there is a “whole of life” philosophy waiting to be explored. One aspect of that philosophy that is not often talked about are the Kleshas (Kl-esh-as) or afflictions of life. These can be referenced in one of the best known and respected Yoga works, the circa 2000-year-old Patanjali Yoga Sutras, Sutra 2.12. I should point out that the Sutras are written in Sanskrit and have been translated to English by many. The translations can vary and subsequently the details may differ. Be aware that my explanation below is a broad overview only and that should you wish to know more you could pick up a copy of T.K.V. Desikachar’s book “The heart of Yoga” or simply Google “Kleshas” and a mountain of information will appear.
Attachment can be to objects, people or anything that gives us satisfaction or pleasure. The pursuit of pleasure for instance, can lead to poor decisions for our self and others. On top of that, pleasure is usually short lived. We become trapped in an endless cycle of seeking more. Aversion is the avoidance of things we don’t like, things that cause unpleasant experiences for us. Being unable to avoid unpleasant experiences causes suffering. The suggestion that Yoga makes here is to be neutral to all experiences so that they are neither good or bad, they just are. Fear is generally referred to as fear of death. Deep in our subconscious most humans have this fear. It doesn’t matter how hard you train, eventually the body crumbles and gives up, finishing the process referred to as dissolution. Back to the earth.
There are 5 different Kleshas, each intertwined with the other – ignorance, ego, attachment, aversion and fear. Ignorance is not referring to lack of knowledge of the world but rather spiritual ignorance or understanding of the inner self. Knowledge about who we really are and what is real and lasting compared to the fleetingness of physical life.
The journey of Yoga is about preparing for the end of the physical life. While you can still breathe and meditate, you can do Yoga. In the meantime, look for joy and wonder in everything you do, each and every day.
Ego is who we identify ourselves as being. The “I am” of life. Of course, ego can be useful in navigating our way through modern society but it can also lead to great hardship, both personally and on a broader scale – “I am bigger, faster and stronger than others” can often be seen in Yoga
Written by John West Images by Kelly Ryan See more at www.trueblueyoga.com