One of my first yoga teachers wanted his school to be called ‘Awareness Yoga’. Training peoples’ awareness to notice what they were up to, he reckoned, was what yoga was all about.
He was a good teacher, but appeared to be moody and, to my mind, he wasn’t aware of how his angry moods impacted people. Publicly he was inspiring and wise, but privately he could be quite petty.
I’m shocked myself at how often I go on automatic and say things that are thoughtless or my behaviour is self-serving. I feel that my work is definitely in the area of ‘awareness yoga’ – attention to my thoughts, words and actions.
The best tool I have for this is the first Yama – Ahimsa. More than non-violence, as Ahimsa is often translated, this precept says to me, ‘cultivate sensitivity.’
Fortunately I know that I’m only human, that yoga is an on-going practice, and part of Ahimsa is being patient and kind with myself.
Vyutthana-nirodha-samskarayoh abhibhava-pradurbhavau nirodha-ksana-citta -anvayah nirodha-parinamah
The mind is capable of having two states based on two distinct tendencies. These are distraction and attention. However, at any one moment only one state prevails, and this state influences the individual’s behaviour, attitudes and expressions.*
*Patanjali’s Yogasutras, translation and commentary by T.K.V. Desikachar