≡ Menu
YogaDork

Screw Union With the Divine

in YogOpinions

sadu

by J. Brown

I have this tendency to be overly provocative, sometimes to a fault. I have managed to temper this but, as discussed last month, changing old patterns requires continued attention.

The title of this post is a perfect example. You see, I really wanted to call it “F*** Union with the Divine” but I decided to exercise my better judgment. Indulging in my taste for irreverence is immensely satisfying; however, incendiary language can easily put folks off and the intended sentiments are lost in my fancy for stirring the pot.

That I have matured only so far is evidenced by the fact that I still can’t resist finding a way to get it in here anyways. At least, I didn’t drop an f-bomb straightway in the title, asterisk-coated or not.

I have traced my relapse back to an email I recently received from Yoga Journal Magazine. The topic of the newsletter was Bhakti Yoga and the opening paragraph stated:

“It’s ultimate goal, like any other form of yoga, is self-realization and union with the Divine.”

I can accept that Bhakti Yoga, as defined classically, may have an ultimate goal of self-realization and union with the Divine but to assert that all other forms of yoga also subscribe to this notion is not only inaccurate but perpetuates a view of yoga that runs contrary to my understanding.

I suppose the editors at Yoga Journal Magazine are not reading as deeply into their newsletter copy as I am, nor do I fault them for using catch phrases to sell magazines. All the same, when yoga is made out to be an abstract thing that has no bearing on people’s real lives, it kinda pisses me off.

When I’m dealing with health insurance companies, real-estate markets and babysitters, don’t talk to me about union with the Divine. For people living in the world, it is not useful to think of yoga as some gargantuan undertaking that has the power to bring about a grand realization or transform us into something we are not already.

To suggest that such things are to be striven for, in today’s culture, generally amounts to self-abuse more than realization and defining a singular Divine inherently casts a disparaging shadow over the glory that is our mundane existence.

An important distinction needs to be made: Monks do yoga practice for different reasons than moms and dads.

I got lots of life stuff going on right now and I know that I am not the only one. A beautiful thing about sending out these intimate bits is that people who read them get to know something about me personally and when I see them at the center and ask: “how’s it going?” they often feel license to give me an honest answer.

We all got jobs and apartments and relationships that require a lot of effort. Getting all that going in a good way is the yoga of a house-holder. I have belabored a consideration of dualistic and non-dualistic frameworks for yoga (see The Steps We Take and Discernment is Vital.) Instead, I will state my point here plainly:

The ultimate goal of yoga is to be well and appreciate life. The breathing and moving exercises we do are nothing more than a way of easing discomfort and encouraging conducive perspective. In turn, practice also tends to facilitate intimacy, strengthen relationships and make life more enjoyable. This practical application of yoga has always existed and ought not be obscured by zealots or profiteers.

Of course, this is just my opinion. Others may disagree.

——

J. Brown is a yoga teacher, writer and founder of Abhyasa Yoga Center in Brooklyn, NY.  His writing has been featured in Yoga Therapy in Practice, Yoga Therapy Today and the International Journal of Yoga Therapy.  Visit his website at yogijbrown.com.

——

Earlier

56 comments… add one

  • shannon

    Yoga journal also needs to hire a better copy editor to find errors like “it’s” as the possessive form of “it.” no no no no no! “Its” is the possessive form of “it.”

  • Amanda

    I was going to post the exact same thing. And as long as we’re on the subject, sloppy writers and speakers take note. . . it’s “a lot” not “alot” and “I should have gone there” not “I should have went there.” Our country is grammatically doomed. We’re all gonna die.

  • My use of the word “lots” in the third to last paragraph was on purpose. I have always been grammatically challenged, despite being an AP English student back in high school, but I’m not that bad. I do enjoy letting myself be a little loose for conversational purposes. You are right though, with all the texting and blogging afoot, writing is becoming less than literary. Your point is duly noted.

  • Amanda

    J.Brown, no explanation is needed. My latter two grammatical rants were directed at neither you nor your piece. Maybe I shouldn’t have included them in my reply, but I couldn’t help myself. I’m the annoying idiot who copy edits while she reads.

  • Pam

    A simple “no thanks, that definititon does not work for me” probably would have sufficed. Judging from the anger/annoyance in your essay, I’d say your yoga is not doing so well on the “be well and appreciate life” front. Unless, of course, you mean just to appreciate your life, and your opinions, and not those of others.

  • Respectfully, I would not say that my frustration with the way yoga is often being presented goes so far as anger. Also, I did acknowledge that I was reading deeply into a relatively innocuous newsletter and that others may disagree with my opinion. As a teacher who comes up against a lot of misconceptions about yoga, sometimes a little push back against the cultural sensationalizing of everything feels needed. Not to mention, indulging some emotion often makes for better writing.

  • Scott

    “it kinda pisses me off.” isn’t anger?

  • i think i dreamed this article last night ;-)

    i’ll only quote you to entice others to read this too ;-)

    thanks so much,

    adan

  • Your supportive sentiments are greatly appreciated.

  • admin

    thank you J. Brown for your thoughts, vulnerability and expression.

    the copy editing team will take the hit from the grammar police. lock us up, boys!

  • Aimee Nitzberg

    Whenever I hear or read, ‘the goal of yoga is…’ I immediately brace myself for illusion/confusion. It is not possible to say or write that, it is a direct experience.

  • I agree. I only used the phrase in parroting the impetus for the statement. I too am fundamentally opposed to yoga being goal oriented in any way. I appreciate you holding my feet to the fire.

  • Ramapriya Ramanuja

    The Yoga Journal article was written by someone who doesn’t know what Bhakti Yoga is or what the Vedic conclusion is. First up, the Vedic conclusion is that the Supreme is a person: Sriman Narayana, not some undefinable “energy” which impersonalists (who’d rather not have a God they actually would have to care about) like to claim. Among His unlimited Avatars is Sri Krishna, who spoke the Bhagavad-Gita.

    We, the living entities or jivas, are tiny expansions of Sriman Narayana, Vishnu, and are in this material manifestation because we wanted to control and enjoy separately from Him in His realm, Vaikuntha. Bhakti Yoga is a path of devotion and it is proposed that this path will reawaken our dormant love of God. It is through loving devotional service that we have unity with the “Divine”, not by somehow merging into Him.

  • i like this because it’s not preachy elitist or condescending, fits with what i believe ;-) and is clearly expressed (better than me)

    thank you much!

  • Scott

    The ultimate goal of yoga is to be well and appreciate life.
    It’s ultimate goal, like any other form of yoga, is self-realization and union with the Divine.”

    If life is divine and being well includes knowing yourself and being the best you that you can be today, then these two statements mean pretty much the same thing.

    In the history, philosophy and writing associated with Yoga, there is so much that can be argued with, it would be possible to spend a whole lot of time picking apart literally thousands and thousands of statements such as the one that spurred this rant. I’ve spent a lot of years doing just that in religion, politics, philosophy, psychology, bicycling, woodworking, gardening, cooking and just about everything I’ve ever been involved in. None of that brought me much peace. Now days, when I read about Yoga, I like to try to imagine what the direct experience was that forms the core of truth. I don’t always get there, but I’ve found it more enlightening and definitely less disturbing to the fluctuations of my mind. I have yoga itself for thank for this wonderful gift.

    Namaste’
    Om Shanti’ Shanti’ Shanti’

    Scott Newsom

  • I’m with you Scott. If life is divine and being well includes knowing yourself and being the best you that you can be today, then you’re right. They would amount to the same basic thing. Perhaps you should be writing the copy for YJ’s newsletters. You have my vote.

    I also agree that there has always been wide interpretation and assertion about Yoga. I find some joy in exercising a friendly touch of cynicism and whimsy. I’m not losing any sleep over what YJ says about yoga.

    Contemplating the “core of truth” is a useful suggestion.
    Thanks.

  • pam

    The further away I moved from the yoga “community” the more I was actually able to get in tune with yoga as it enriches my own life and those around me. As an example, I’ll use the first couple of posts pointing out grammatical/spelling errors rather than addressing the author’s observations. sigh…..
    I also agree with the author that expressing a little emotion makes the writing more interesting, compelling. Anger and annoyance don’t apparently ‘suit’ those calm, flat-line yogis who walk around like zombies criticizing the state of your ‘practice’ because you show a little emotion. I have been saved!

  • I maintain that health encompasses a full range of emotion, even those we wish to avoid or generally deem undesirable. Writing is a useful outlet for exploring the many emotions that we all experience. Thanks for having my back Pam. Much appreciated.

  • Scott

    Where are these “calm, flat-line yogis” ? I haven’t met to many of them. The yogi’s I practice with tend to be vibrant, joyful, courageous, emotionally deep people. They don’t tend to be critical either – just the opposite, in fact. Trying not to judge others or ourselves has always been one of the most important facets of the yoga I’ve been taught, and which I teach to others and often fail to practice as well as I’d like.

    Openness to the immediate experience of emotion is important to our emotional health, but we also have a lot of choice about how we respond to things and maybe more importantly, what we choose to express and how. These things also have an effect on our emotional health and on the wellbeing of those around us. Really, isn’t there more than enough anger in the world already? Do we need to add fuel to the fire by attacking a well-intentioned generalization that can be interpreted any number of ways? If there is such a thing as a legitimate target for anger, aren’t there more worthy targets in the world? If we set an example of attacking such an innocuous target, does that not help legitimize similar attacks by others? What do we want to see in the world?

    What about the consequences of our expressed anger? When someone is angry and critical of you, does it open you up and help you change for the better, or does it just make you defensive and harden you up? Is that the effect that you want to have on others? Will that lead to greater emotional health?

  • Scott- Thank you for your considered reply. Being “pissed off” by the mass media tendency to misrepresent yoga in a superficial light was meant to be an expression of frustration more than anger. I can see how it might be read otherwise. Although, again, I do acknowledge that I was reading deeply where other may not and I don’t think a reasoned criticism constitutes an attack.

    Also, there is a difference between discernment and judgement. You have been discerning in your reading of my post and shared your thoughts. I would not accuse you of being judgmental, just expressing an opinion. There is nothing un-yogic about that. In fact, one could easily consider the Vedas, Vendanta and all yoga philosophy as a series of opinions.

    You are fortunate to have avoided hypocrisy and obfuscation in your experience of yoga. We new-yorker types can be a bit jaded. There is a lot of contradictory and confusing information out there about yoga and many people who might benefit are intimidated by what they see and read. My intent was to take yoga off of any new-age pedestals and place it firmly in the nitty-gritty of peoples daily lives and concerns. For me, that involves an honest assessment of my thought process. If I were to sugar-coat it and only present myself in a favorable light, my purpose would be defeated and I doubt would resonate much.

  • Scott

    Thanks for your reply. I certainly agree that there is a lot of contradictory information out there about Yoga. The same is true of any tradition thats been arouind for a few thousand years. I don’t get much out of statements like the one published by YJ, but I don’t find it necessary to tear down someone else’s belief in order to have my own, feel good about it or express it when approriate. I don’t think its necessary to “take down” new age stuff in order to understand or express that yoga is very practical.

    I’m not a religious person, nor would I be considered spiritual by most definitions. My own practice would probably be described as practical, not at all mystical and definitely lacking any connection with supernatural concepts. I don’t think that means my practice isn’t divine though and I can always connect with the emotions expressed by people who lead yoga whether I believe the same things they do or not.

    My primary teacher is very different than me and so are most of the people I practice with. I live in Texas and that means I’m surrounded by Texans. :-) Believe me when I say I undertand what its like to have people constantly try to tell you all sorts of things that could get in the way of understanding both yoga and life. We are in no way immune to the rantings of fundamentalist yogis here at all. In this day of instant communication that allows you in New York and I, in Texas to have this conversation, we have all probably heard pretty much the same lines.

    Who knows, maybe I’m over-reacting. I have been on a partial news and technology fast because I have grown weary of the anger and daily hatefest that seems to be the only way the mass media can present most important issues. I was pretty much just sticking to Yoga websites, so coming across your rant – probably any other time I might have just shrugged it off. I am enjoying the conversation though.

    Namaste’

    Scott

  • I must admit, as I read over these comments, I am struck by how the concern that I started with about being overly provocative and how that sometimes sets people off and obscures my intent was clearly warranted.

    Far be it from me to tear down anyone’s beliefs. I have a very devotional practice and I do believe life is divine. I mean no harm to anyone. I did conclude by saying, “This is only my opinion, others may disagree.” Certainly that suggests an openness to other views.

    All the same, I maintain that there is value and importance in distinguishing between different frameworks for practice. I am studied in four different schools of yoga and they vary quite a bit in terms of both philosophy and technique. Depending on the viewpoint, the experience of yoga changes drastically.

    I understand that not everyone is intellectually minded and, ultimately, if someone is benefiting from their practice (even if it is only about the physical) then who am I to say that it is anything but divine? I am happy for each individual to define yoga and divinity in any way they see fit.

    The fact remains that classical ascetic traditions are based in transcendence of the worldly plane. Monks engage intense physicality to challenge their minds’ ability to transcend and attain super-consciousness or liberation or enlightenment. The conventional yoga goer of today subjects themselves to the same sorts of treatment as a means to escape the stresses of life and have a more aesthetically pleasing body. Whether trying to achieve enlightenment or abs, the mentality is largely the same. House-holders have chosen to live in the world and their practice is of a different sort. Without such lofty goals as the premise, practice becomes a simple and enjoyable way to feel better and encourage appreciation in the life they are having.

    That said, if I compare yoga teachers of any sort to say Sarah Palin supporters (there I go again), we are still in harmony in more ways then not. I would not want to let my zeal for discernment foster division. I’ll be the first to admit, and did so in the second paragraph, that I still have maturing yet to do. I suppose being self effacing has its limits but a case could be made that, given the interesting discussion that has ensued, the writing was effective.

    I am deeply appreciative of everyone taking the time to have some dialogue.

  • Pam

    There seem to be two ‘Pams’ here.
    I’ve seen flat line, non-expressive yogis almost everywhere I’ve travelled.
    But I think you’ve perhaps misinterpreted my remarks as being ‘angry,’ when in fact I was using anger and annoyance as examples of emotions.
    My teachers taught me that emotion is part of life: all emotion. I was taught to explore and mine emotions that surface to learn more about myself and my ‘inner workings’ if you will, and to use emotional energy to generate something positive, even if the emotion is negative or perceived as negative (I get the impression you think of anger as a negative emotion and I would beg to differ). Anger can be a catalyst for great change but I’m sure I don’t have to cite historical examples for you.
    I assume you refer to the collective ‘you’ in your remarks, otherwise, I think you’d be engaging in yogic finger-wagging, which, as I’ve already stated, I can live without. :) Peace

  • Scott

    Pam,
    Anger can definitely be positive, just as it can definitely be negative. One of the interesting things I’ve learned from the tantric perspective on emotions is that all emotions can experienced as bliss. Anger, Disgust and Fear are extremely difficult to experience in this way though. Most people experience these emotions as negative, and to the extent that we can’t be responsible for the consequences of our expression of (not experience of) those emotions, we must be very careful with them because they can definitely be harmful and there is a reason that ahimsa is the first Yama.

    The only times I used the word “you” in my previous post was in a question. That question could be taken as rhetorical, or a genuine expression of curiosity. In any case, I share your disdain for finger-wagging and that wasn’t the intent.

  • Sarah

    Dude, this magazine is geared to middle class white women who most likely are not struggling with jobs and apartments and relationships. They are struggling with boredom and which spa treatment to do (look at the ads). That quote is probably perfect from a marketing perspective to this demographic. I’m surprised that didn’t throw in Yoga Goddess somewhere in that quote. I’m all for rants, but this misses the mark.

  • Alex

    maybe: “It’s ultimate goal, like any other form of yoga, is self-realization and union with the Divine Goddess.” or “The ultimate goal of any Yoga Goddess is self-realization and union with herself.”

  • All I can say is that the folks at YD knew exactly what they were getting when they brought me aboard. My hope is to offer some counterpoint to Miley Cyrus in lace-clad Natarajasana. You don’t seem to be a middle-aged woman whose only into yoga for the clothes. I figure we might as well give YD readers the benefit of the doubt. I am an equal opportunity ranter.

  • “The ultimate goal of yoga is to be well and appreciate life”

    The ultimate goal of yoga is whatever goals the individual practicing it is seeking to attain at the given moment. Often those will be to be able to feel they’ve had a workout and that they’re a spiritual person, preferably without actually working too hard or getting too practical and specific.

    There has been a general shift from people seeking not to restrict yoga by defining it but simply presenting the practice and letting it speak for itself to people shouting the final, exact, and only definition of yoga at the top of their lungs. I guess it gets people into class.

  • I’m beginning to wish that I didn’t use that phrase “the ultimate goal of yoga” in my statement. As mentioned previously, I was using the idiom that YJ established. Upon further reflection, I think it would have been better to chose different words. Perhaps something more like: “If there is to be a goal in yoga then …..” or “While I don’t believe there is an ultimate goal to yoga, one good purpose might be….”

    I agree that, ultimately, practice speaks for itself and words often fail when it comes to Yoga.

  • abbylou

    I really appreciate your honesty and candor, and that you allowed yourself to publicly express an emotion, and an unpopular one for that matter. I think that many in the yoga community have a tendency to suppress emotions. Among many practitioners, you are a huge asshole if you admit that you think and feel something other than starry-eyed bliss and LOVE for everything around you. (I am not sure that bliss is an emotion. The type I see seems like it might be a mask.)

    I have been consistently practicing yoga for five years now.
    At first I thought that this bliss was something that came with diligent asana practice. Now, as I get further down my path, I am more aware of my emotions and thoughts as they rise in my practice and day-to-day life. Noticing them and acknowledging them and choosing whether and how to take action in response to them rather than tuning them out or engaging in knee jerk reactions is the yoga. I have learned to be honest with myself, and for me putting on a blissful face and not having anger would be a lie. It is difficult to work with strong emotions, but I feel less stressed when I am on the path and not so aimless. And sometimes I do feel a little spark of something divine.

  • Thanks for helping me keep it real, Abbylou.

  • ally

    I’m new to yoga, and I have a question – what does “union with the Divine” mean? Could it mean something different for everyone?

  • “Union with the Divine” is a catch phrase that gets thrown around a lot in the yoga world and comes from translations of ancient sanskrit texts. As with all yogic texts and principles, the meaning is entirely open to interpretation. My only qualm is when catch phrases, without any further elucidation, end up making yoga out to be something less than practical. My humble suggestion is that you will be the ultimate determiner of truth and meaning. There is no external authority for Yoga.

  • Toddy

    J – you rock.

    I read your tone quite clearly as frustration and not anger. It frustrates me too when people presume an aspiration to divinity in Hatha Yoga practice. It’s great if that’s their motivation – it’s perfectly legitmate – but a lot of those folk wander round telling everyone that the intention of all yoga is union with “the divine”.
    As a dedicated yogi and and someone up to my neck in sanskrit studying to be a yoga teacher this dogmatic view smacks of ignorance. Yoga actually doesn’t translate accurately to ‘union’ let alone “union with the divine”. At it’s most basic it’s a mundane sanskrit verb used to describe a farmer connecting his plough to his ox. That’s it. It implies a harnessing not a joining and in it’s most basic usage nothing spiritual at all. Whenever I get that “Yoga means union with the divine” line in a yoga class I can see the alienation of newbies and those with other spiritual beliefs (especially atheist men) and the resistance of most of the average folk . These are the very householders Krishnamacharya aspired to bring Hatha Yoga to after hundreds, perhaps thousands of years of it being discipline restricted to male religious ascetics.
    F*** that.
    ;) Toddy.

  • Scott

    Teddy,

    The “Yoke” (which is one of the core meanings of the term Yoga) attaches two oxen to each other so that their combined efforts can be applied to one purpose. Without the yoke, the oxen wouldn’t work together even if they were both harnessed to the same plow or wagon. Thus, yoke does mean union. I’d agree that there is no mention of “the divine” in there though. That must have been added later. Its sort of true that those of a fundamentalist nature will impose their obfuscations on anything and to the extent that this may distract some people from a more fruitful path, I understand and agree with your and J. Brown’s objections. I’m glad that sort of thing wasn’t in my first introduction to Yoga.

  • Toddy

    Hi Scott

    I would like to acknowledge I think we concur on the point made by J but I would like to respectfully and good naturedly correct your definition of “yoke”. Yoga has a noun form that translates directly as yoke – it is the sanksrit version of a very old word that appears in almost every one of the Indo-European languages in some form including Sanskrit, Germanic languages including English and Romance languages including Latin and Spanish). It refers to the object used to attach a harness to a bovine of burden to it’s load such as a plough or a cart. While traditionally oxen (especially towards Europe) are bound in pairs by a shared yoke they can be used singly with a yoke designed for a single animal. The yoke is the frame used with a harness to attach the animal to the load regardless of the number of animals being yoked together and it can be as simple as piece of wood across the horns or as elaborate as a carved bow of wood over the neck and shoulders.
    Kind regards,
    Toddy

  • Scott

    Toddy,

    First – sorry for getting your name wrong before – my almost 50-year-old eyes are not what they used to be. I’ll also accept your broadening of the definition of Yoke while noting that it does not rule out the meaning I proposed. Both could be understood as union too, so I’m not sure what your objection is there. Like many such words, it can have multiple meanings no? Kind of like divine.

    Now, I don’t believe that there is some separate creature or even a universal consciousness thing that we can merge with, so if that is the only definition of union you will allow, I can understand your objection. I don’t think it does me any good to be so limited. When I hear about union, I think about bringing my highest intentions or best self into my physical practice of Hatha Yoga. Doing this exercises my mind and body. I’ve found that doing this on the mat allows me to be more true to myself and better to myself and to others off the mat. That is what union with the divine means to me.

    It probably means many different things to many different people. If the reason for objecting to it was that unchallenged, it might lead some pour souls astray, it would be an equally valid criticism of J. Brown’s response to it.

    My yoga teacher believes that I am somehow channeling the one spirit whether I know I’m doing it or not. She can believe that if she wants to. I love her just the same. Right and wrong just doesn’t matter about such things. We allow each other to believe what we want to believe.

    In a non-dual universe, god is everything and everything is god (stick with me here), so from that point of view a purely physical practice is also divine. As a naturalist, I also believe in a non-dual universe, except that I would just say that nature is everything and everything is nature. I say tomato… Divine means nature in its most desirable form that this point in time. Aiming for that is practical, and damn fun.

    Namaste’

    Scott

  • Toddy

    Hi Scott – Namaste,

    I wouldn’t want you to think that me getting into the etymological nitty gritty was about a narrowing of the meanings of the word yoga – quite the opposite. I’d say we agree entirely – I have no interest in criticizing other peoples understanding of the meaning of the term unless that understanding excludes other peoples wildly varying takes on what the word yoga means. My intention is to broaden this discourse by communicating a very basic meaning of the word and it’s subsequent connotations that is generally overlooked and is fundamental to my understanding of my own Hatha Yoga practice – especially as an atheist. I think it’s wonderful that union of two things with a common yoke is the aspect of the meaning of yoga that contributes to your and your students practice. My respectful objection was to your statement “The “Yoke” (which is one of the core meanings of the term Yoga) attaches two oxen to each other so that their combined efforts can be applied to one purpose” because I feel this is a narrow and inaccurate. About half the world water buffaloes live in India (and another 40% in SE Asia where I travel a lot) and the vast majority of them are yoked as single beasts. This image is central to my practice of gently and patiently yoking my flawed body to the intention of my mind & self and I’d be sad to see this idea excluded from the broader yoga community’s discourse and practice of yoga through omission or oversight.

    Again – namaste
    Toddy

  • You rock – Toddy. You have expressed here exactly what I was driving at. Kudos.

  • You rock – Toddy. You have expressed here exactly what I was driving at. Kudos.

  • Scott

    Toddy,

    Agreed. And thank for for broadening my understanding of the definition of Yoke/Yoga. Reminds me of when I fist heard that Pranayama could be omderstood as Pran-ayama (freeing the breath) rather than prana-yama (controlling the breath).

    Namaste’

    Scott

  • Toddy

    Thank you Scott – you have my deepest respect.
    I am confident that if we sat down and talked yoga for more than 5 minutes I would learn many times more from you than I could humbly offer in return.
    Namaste,
    Toddy

  • Dayita

    This: “simply presenting the practice and letting it speak for itself ”

    and it really does. the trouble is that so many people want it explained for them – as though enabling the monkey mind to grasp it is some kind of shortcut.

  • Pam

    What you resist, persists. Welcome to your future.

  • Toddy

    Unless you’re resisting the urge to slap someone, lie, steal, be greedy, go to bed without brushing your teeth, feel discontented, avoid your daily practice, blow off study or not surrender to how things are. Wait a second … that’s the first two limbs of Patanjali!

  • Pam

    Sounds like you have your work cut out for you. Good luck with that!

  • abbylou

    Isn’t snark a form of anger?

  • Pam

    I think so! hahaha

  • Toddy

    Hopefully it depends on one’s intention.: No anger intended or implied on my part, just a lot of good natured sarcasm – perhaps it is an Australian thing. I can’t say that I have felt much anger for a long time. Frustration however is something that I regularly work through on the yoga mat. I’d hate to confuse the two.

    It does bring to mind a something BKS Iyengar has written that addresses anger though. In Light on Yoga Iyengar says: “There are two types of anger (krodha), one which debases the mind while the other leads to spiritual growth.”
    Hopefully yogis allow themselves the latter.

  • Toddy

    Thanks Pam. With all that brushing of teeth and keeping my hands in my pockets it’s a wonder how I ever get to my asanas.

  • Pam

    Yes, there are two Pams, and I am struck by how the other Pam seems to be “finger-wagging”, or at least passing some kind of judgement on the “flat-line non-expressive yogis” she refers to. You can’t possibly know what their practice means to them. To judge on what you can see, and not feel seems shallow at best, and superior at worst. The real question to me seems to be, why can’t we all just enjoy our own practice, and let it mean what it means to us, and not worry about whether that meaning
    is acceptable to other people who are loving their own practice also.

  • Scott

    Well said, Pam number ?- now which is which? Who am I supporting? Oh No!

  • Pam

    As they cannot know what my practice means to me. Thank you for making my point
    Pam #2 (I’ll try harder)

  • Pam

    Thanks Scott. I have been thinking of myself as the first Pam. Well, I guess it depends on if you like the comment that starts with “yes, there are two Pams.” If not, that is Pam two. Now, are you thoroughly confused??

  • j brown, i think you chose wisely, or luckily ;-) cause a similarly titled ej article, but with an explicit version of screw, and that i’d passed along on facebook, has (justifiably i think) met comment resistance to me for not at least considering who age groups might be reading the material on fb

    also, your post, and one by kara-leah in new zealand, seem to really have caught great discussion threads in the comments

    great stuff all this exchanging, thanks!

  • Scott

    Hm, seems to be a limit on how many replies can stack up in a thread. J. Brown, I have to say that you don’t use inflamatory language if there is no intent to start a little action. Once you get it started, it might not be so easy to keep it from turning into a wild fire. I appreciated from the beginning your sense of humor about the whole thing. You never came across as mean spirited or with any intent to harm. I was a bit concerned about the zeal and judgmental nature of some of the supportive replies though. Maybe this is one reason that there is more than a little truth in the saying that its better to light a single candle than curse the darkness.

    Namaste’

    Scott

Leave a Comment