Teaching Ashtanga,  Uncategorized,  Yoga Philosophy,  Yoga Sutras

Take Back Your Power

It is their fault vs It is your fault.

Which one is more empowering?

In the short run, it feels good to blame life, our childhood and other people for negative events. We can take our issues off our shoulders and give them over to others. It is an easy fix.

But which one is more empowering?

It is extremely difficult, and in most cases, impossible to control other people’s actions. It is impossible to go back in the past and change your childhood or unmarry your ex husband. So the power felt from blame and imparting our righteous anger on others is short lived and detrimental.

It is short lived because the blame makes you feel good but it doesn’t change anything.

It is detrimental because it destroys relationships and it takes away your power.

When something is our fault, the ability to change the situation is in our hands.  It is the hard way but ultimately the most empowering.  It requires that we take a deep look at the actions we took that led us to that place.

We are creators. What are you creating?

When you only take responsibility for the good things that happen in your life and place the bad things on others, you place a huge chunk of your life into someone else’s hands. You are allowing all the people in your life, that you feel caused you pain, to keep causing that same pain for years to come. You don’t have the power. They do. They live forever in your mind and in your heart. With every hurt, you recreate them.

Why would a creator, as powerful as you, keep creating pain?

 You keep creating it through memory.

Patanjali, in the Yoga Sutras, defines yoga as the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind. He goes on to list the fluctuations and say that these fluctuations can be painful or painless.  Memory is one of those fluctuations.

When a mental modification of an object, previously experienced and not forgotten, comes back to consciousness, that is memory -Yoga Sutras of Patanjali  1:11

You create it because you are attached.

We are attached to it because we have forgotten who we really are. Our powerful, beautiful self is too vast and magnificent to be brought down by a negative experience. Only the little self, we have created, is small enough to be contained in that thought.

Then the Seer (Self) abides in his own nature. At other times (the Self appears to) assume the forms of the mental modifications -Yoga Sutras of Patanjali 1: 3-4

Then we run from it through blame.

Which is ironic because you cannot run from something you are attached to but we still try, LOL.

There are five kinds of thought patterns (kleshas) that Kriya yoga (Yoga of action) deals with: 1) forgetting, or ignorance about the true nature of things (avidya), 2) I-ness, individuality, or egoism (asmita), 3) attachment or addiction to mental impressions or objects (raga), 4) aversion to thought patterns or objects (dvesha), and 5) love of these as being life itself, as well as fear of their loss as being death.- Yoga Sutras of Patanjali 2:3

Dvesha or aversion is what we do when we blame others.

How do we stop it?

Kriya Yoga. Kriya is the yoga of action. We change these thought patterns not through blame but through action. Our own actions.

Yes, there are times when something is going to be out of your control. People may harm you. The action, that caused the harm, is their Karma. You make it yours when you continue to act out because of it. That is when you are responsible for it.

Simple example, your high school sweet heart cheats on you. That was their fault and their action. However, if you choose to not trust anyone from that point on, the karma or consequences are yours. By not trusting anyone else, you are not hurting your high school sweet heart. You are hurting yourself and all future relationships.

Let me tell you something you may not like. Karma is about your perception of the action.  Using the same example, if your high school sweetheart thinks cheating is good, they do not get any ill karma!!! You ever wonder why people who do horrible things keep having awesome things happen to them? You ever wonder why that super nice family on Good Times had such a hard time making it out of the ghetto? This is yoga’s answer.

Many times, when we hold a negative memory or blame others, we are the only one that is getting hurt!!

Stop hurting yourself!!

Take the actions or kriyas that allow you to get out of the cycle of blame and takes your enemies or past hurts out of the drivers seat.

There are many ways to do this. One of these  is by taking responsibility for your part in it happening and taking responsibility for your future actions.

If you want to use yoga, the second book of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali is dedicated to Kriya Yoga. This is the section that talks about the 8 limbs of Yoga. The 8 limbs give our lives back to us. They take us out of blame and into power. They teach us how to stop the self perpetuating narrative in our heads that gives us pain.

Do you know what the next book of the Yoga Sutras is about?

Accomplishments aka siddhis aka super powers!!!

When we take back our power we accomplish things! To other people, we seem super human!

That is what is in store for a Yogi! Don’t let memory and blame keep you from your birthright!

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 shanna@shannasmallyoga.com.