Yoga-sutra presents a simple, effective, yet less known method for those who struggle with deep meditation. A clear and calm mind is everyone’s birthright. However, to jump into the practice of meditation is often experienced as difficult, whereas the more easily approachable practice of asanas alone will usually not go all the way.
The intermediate practice of kriya-yoga is designed to help all levels of practitioners to approach the practice of meditation. It induces calm and clarity in mind by applying the three central principles of tapas, svadhyaya and Ishvara pranidhana.
Tapas means bringing about the calmness of mind while at the same time teaching the senses to tolerate the inevitable discomfort of learning a new way of experiencing one’s body, senses, and life. Often translated as austerity, it is essential to learn to approach this practice in a way that leads to a pleasant feeling of senses and mind turning inwards.
Svadhyaya is the practice of sacred sound. Of the three essential practices of svadhyaya, we will study the two that are easily available for everyone: these are the practices of mantra-meditation and yoga wisdom for enlightened life.
Ishvara pranidhana, or dedication to the Supreme, is the only practice mentioned in the yoga-sutra, that can independently bring the practitioner to the perfection of samadhi. That said, it is not easy. We will learn the basic principles of this practice by looking at the central yogic practice of Bhagavad-gita, Yajña. Yajña can take many forms, and be applied in daily life as well as on meditation. We will explore this both in theory and practice.