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Original article posted at Ashtanga Dispatch by Peg Mulqueen


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Bhakti:  A longing for that internal dwelling

The start of the second chapter (of the Yoga Sutras) is on Sadhana.  It means to have discipline.  That’s the practice you have taken on for this remembrance of self.

images courtesy of Joanna Darlington.  For more, visit the AYS FaceBook page:

images courtesy of Joanna Darlington

The yoga of action

It’s what you’re doing right there on the mat and they (the Yoga Sutras) give you three practices they call Kriya Yoga.  Kriya means action.  Strong, powerful effort.

The three are tapas, svadhyaya and ishvara pranidhana.

Tapas is the first ingredient and the foundation.  It is that discipline – that heat you create around centering your awareness, centering your mind, centering your breath and centering your speech in contemplation of self.

Svadhyaya is a reflection, a study and a study of mantra.  Isvara pranidhana is devotion and surrender.  A giving over and a bowing to that practice … to that self … to that endeavor of knowing.

Roots of suffering

You do this kriya yoga in order to bring about absorption – a deep centralized, whole body, whole consciousness presence.  And for lessening the effects of the kleshas (roots of suffering).  Those kleshas are five:  they are avidya, asmita, raga, dvesha, abhinivesha.

Avidya is the field for all the rest … it is the not seeing of self.  Vidya (knowledge) is the great embodiment … to realize the colossal extent of your self. That you are the cosmic person. The whole existence is contained within the body of one being – and that is  you.

Avidya is to not realize that, the tiny embodiment.  And not realizing that leads to asmita, a wrong sense of I and who I am.  Raga and dvesha follow from that which is attachment for this little body.  This tiny little self wants/needs this pleasure and can’t stand that one – and it’s always unhappy because it’s always wanting this or not wanting that.

Abhinivesha is this clinging to life.  This little body that is very, definitely material, that doesn’t last – I’m clinging to that.  I have to make it last.  On and on, it can never die so I hold on for dear life and I’m afraid of anything that might take that away.

And so tapas helps you lessen the effects of those five.

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Shanna Small has been practicing Ashtanga Yoga and studying the Yoga Sutras since 2001. She has studied in Mysore with Sharath Jois and is the Director of AYS Charlotte, a school for traditional Ashtanga in Charlotte NC. She has written for Yoga International and the Ashtanga Dispatch. Go here for more information on AYS Charlotte. For information on workshops, please e-mail