A fortnight ago, we told you the story of how Patanjali came to be. We now begin the series on Patanjali’s yogaSûtras
Atha yoganushasanam which means “now I will enunciate the discipline of Yoga”.
Shasana means rules someone imposes on you. Anushasana is the rule you impose upon yourself. Do you see the difference? Now, why is yoga called a discipline? Where is the need for discipline? When does the need for discipline arise?
When you are thirsty and want to drink water, you do not say “Oh! This is a rule, I must drink water”. When you are hungry you just eat. When it comes to the question of enjoying oneself, no discipline is necessary. Where does discipline come into the picture?
Discipline arises when something is not very charming to begin with. Isn’t it? When you are happy, when you are in peace or happiness, then you are already in yourself. There is no discipline there. But when the mind is wagging its tail all the time, then discipline is essential to calm it down. The fruit of it is eventually blissful, joyful. Like a diabetic saying, “I have the discipline not to eat sugar”.
There are three types of happiness. One is Sattvik — happiness which is not pleasurable to begin with, but ends in joy; Rajasic — happiness that seems to begin well but ends in misery; and Tamasic — there appears to be happiness but in reality there is only misery from beginning to end.
No discipline is necessary for tamasic happiness. Wrong discipline results in rajasic happiness. For sattvik happiness, discipline is essential to begin with. It need not be uncomfortable all the time. But if it is uncomfortable, then you should be able to bear with it. You need discipline. That is why Patanjali begins with the present, when things are not clear and when your heart is not in the right place. Now let us look into the discipline of yoga.
It is nobody’s imposition, it is self-imposed. There is a lot we impose on ourselves — every morning we wake up and brush our teeth, we then brush them again before going to bed. This is your discipline. But these have been self-imposed from childhood. Haven’t they?
When you were a child, your mother had to impose the discipline on you. But then, once it became a habit, you understood it was for your own good. And then you found it was no longer your mother’s rule but your own.
In the same way, keeping yourself clean, hygienic, exercising, meditating, being kind, considerate etc. All these rules you have imposed on yourself are all discipline. Isn’t it?
Yoga means uniting with your source. When does that happen? This happens when the mind, which is chattering all the time, suddenly becomes silent.
So what is yoga? It is chitta vrutti nirodaha, our second Sûtra.
Yoga is the act of restraining or freeing the mind from the clutches of the modulations of the mind. There are five types of modulations of the mind — wanting proof for everything; lack of comprehension; imagination; sleep; and memory.
All through the day, your mind is in one these modulations. But, if there are those moments when you are not sleeping, not remembering old things, not imagining, or looking for proof, then that moment yoga has happened.
At that moment what is happening? You are just by yourself in the journey of your own self, which is the source of joy or source of love or source of peace and knowledge.
There are two types of thinking — occidental and oriental. In the oriental way of thinking, it said that there ia an ultimate and in the ultimate everything happens. In the occidental way of thinking you are always looking for an ultimate. In either of the approaches yoga is what happens when you are in the moment so totally at ease and peace.
So ,when does this happen? Whenever you are watching the sunset or when you experience beauty in your life or when you experience lot of energy in the body. This also happens after pranayama (breathing techniques) or during meditation. The mind is then free from all these five modulations. That is why when you do yogasanas you put the body, mind and breath, all in one rhythm. That is when real yoga is happening and you are with yourself.