How Advanced of a Yogi am I?

Nowadays, Yoga has become a prosperous business like no other. Every month there will be a different yoga style being trademarked in the US that costs 5.000 USD and only its certified trainers are allowed to train others. Is this what the sage Patanjali has once foreseen? But who cares about Patanjali anyways, the main thing is it sells!

Am I advanced if I have a special aromatherapy oil to spray on my yoga mat, the stretch organic cotton bra that matches in colour with my yoga outfit or the travel mug with a picture of Ganesha? But did you notice? It is all about having and the possession of outside objects. Yoga is just the opposite. Once an Indian yoga master A.G. Mohan said: “Yoga is work in, not work out.” Don’t get me wrong, I like all these material things and I can enjoy them, but they should not build the base. And of course: we are never finished in life. I am also working on it 😉

During the 4 weeks Yoga Therapy Instructor’s Course at Arsha Yoga, where I am finding myself at the moment, each time I get a deeper insight into the yoga philosophy and I am grateful for being where I am at the moment. The course set-up is as follows: yoga teachers (max. 14) from different cultures and backgrounds with different amount of teaching experience come together for 28 days of learning and living with us the teachers under the same roof, eating the same food, resting when we rest. It is intense sometimes, no doubt. But only intense moments can bring a breakthrough in the old samskāras (deep rooted habits), taken into account that you are willing to bring about these 3 qualities: tapas (will power, endurance), īśvara praṇidhāna (trust), svādhyāya (self-analysis). Two main enemies will try hard to thwart your efforts: rāga (like) and dveṡa (dislike). What is wrong with liking or disliking something? But I am a human being and an adult! I am free and I can do what I want! I paid for the course! This might be the arguments our mind tries to bring up. Actually, the good things are expensive but the best things are for free. And what is freedom? It is just the opposite of likes and dislikes. The freedom and expansion of mind is the ability to accept any life situation. It doesn’t mean that you have to agree with it. Accept, agree or disagree and act according to ahimsa (non-violence).

The problem with the two “mind devils” is that there is always the other side of the same coin. If you like something, you will dislike the absence of it and vice versa – the other one is missing or you dislike its presence. God dammit! Isn’t it better to just accept what is? Easily said then done, I know. But it is just about constant mind training – tapas – trust in the system and teacher – īśvara praṇidhāna – and the self-analysing capacity that I might be wrong and correcting – svādhyāya.
Today, I ask myself: How advanced in yoga am I? No matter how many times I had already thought about this the same answer pops up like the screen titles at the end of a movie: The more I am able to comply by the yamas and niyamas (ethic rules of conduct), the more advanced of a yogi I am.

May I be given the courage to accept things that I cannot change. May I be given strength to change things that I can change. May I be given the wisdom to know the difference.

with love