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Monday, Feb 15, 2010 This week’s Food for Thought – February 15, 2010

Books or yoga classes often give the impression that there are prerequisites for the study of yoga.  We may be told that we should not smoke, or that we should be a vegetarian, or that we should give away all our worldly goods.  Such ways of behaving are admirable only if they originate within us—and they may as a result of yoga—but not if they are imposed from outside.  For instance, many people who smoke give up the habit once they begin a yoga practice.  As a result of their practice they no longer want to smoke; they do not give up smoking in order to practice yoga.  We begin where we are and how we are, and whatever happens, happens.

When we begin studying yoga—whether by way of the asanas (postures), pranayama (breathing), meditation, or studying yoga sutras (Spiritual text)—the way in which we learn is the same.  The more we progress, the more we become aware of the holistic nature of our being, realizing that we are made of body, breath, mind and more.  Many people who start studying yoga by practicing asanas continue to learn more poses until the only meaning of yoga for them lies in physical exercise.  We can liken this to a man who strengthens only one arm and lets the other one become weak.  Similarly, there are people who intellectualize the idea of yoga; they write wonderful books and speak brilliantly about complicated ideas such as praktri and atman, but when they are writing or speaking they cannot sit erect for even a few minutes.  So let us not forget, we can begin practicing yoga from any starting point, but if we are to be complete human beings we must incorporate all aspects of ourselves and do so step by step.  In the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali emphasizes all aspects of human life, including our relationships with others, our behavior, our health, our breathing, and our meditation path. —TKV Desikachar, The Heart of Yoga

The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.

Don’t go back to sleep.

You must ask for what you really want.

Don’t go back to sleep.

People are going back and forth across the doorsill

Where the two worlds touch.

The door is round and open.

Don’t go back to sleep.

—Jalal ad-Din Rumi