“Yoga is the stilling of the fluctuations of the mind.”
Depending upon who you ask, these words were given to us about 2,000 years ago by Sage Patanjali in his seminal Yoga Sutras. The Yoga Sutras are four chapters of one-hundred-ninety-six short verses, or sutras, providing a recipe of sorts aimed at quieting the crazy squirrels that run around and scream between our ears. Of the one-hundred-ninety-six verses of the Yoga Sutras, only three mention the physical practices of Yoga that many of us understand to be Yoga. So, as it relates to Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, Yoga has very little to do with a rockin’ down dog pose.
Wait, isn’t this website about bikes and running and surfing and dirt and snow and morning workouts and stuff? Probably. But, it seems to me this site is a vessel for much much more than just exploring our physical pursuits. In fact, the internet man named the site “DirtSoulSearch.”
There’s only one word in there that is a physical thing. So, from my read of that title the two words “Soul” and “Search” not only fit neatly into some reflections on Yoga here but actually call out for it. Maybe even the “Dirt” word fits in as well. We’ll see.
Here’s my starting disclaimer: I know nothing. I am not a Yoga instructor. I am pretty sure, however, that I am an individual human on planet Earth whizzing through the universe at a high rate of speed. It’s a crazy trip for sure. I want things. I get upset. I engage in negative self-talk. I eat lots more snacks than I want to at times. I like some people and I dislike others. Put differently, my mind’s fluctuations get the best of me like everybody, all the time. But like my Yoga teacher reminds us, we are all on a journey. My Yoga journey so far reveals to me that the more I incorporate the study and practice of Yoga into my life, the quieter my mind becomes and the better my life unfolds. Yoga.
Now, for sure, I do practice the physical part of Yoga, Asana practice. I am an ugly American. I think, though, that anybody who visits this site or contributes material to this site, somehow is acknowledging or working towards the benefits that a quieter mind brings us. We run up and down wooded trails until we find the flow state where our mind lets go. We squash our pedals underfoot for hours searching for the perfect sync of breath and physical effort until our mind simply says “”you guys got this, I’m out.” We paddle into the ocean to feel the immense energy of water envelope our physical body until our mind retreats. We wake up before dawn to run up and down stairs in sub-freezing temperatures until our mind forgets the lie of the cold. I submit that we all pursue the quieting of the mind in all of these physical pursuits in which we engage. Yoga. Perhaps not the Yoga envisioned by Sage Patanjali, but Yoga nonetheless.
So, here’s my deal: I’m going to take advantage of the internet man’s website here and throw around some musings on my experience learning about Yoga and how it relates to my own DirtSoulSearch. I think I’ll try to do like a ‘twelve days of Christmas” Yoga thing with daily(ish) installments. I really have no answers to anything specific, just some experiences. But I do think that some end of year, pre-Holiday, crazy-world-anxiety, reflections through the prism of Yoga will hopefully not only serve me well, but some others too. Grab some tea, light some incense, get into a comfortable seated position and let’s silence the squirrels.
Who’s in? Hari om!