One of the foundational teachings of Yoga, and one that attracts many practitioners, is that it is within our power to return to inner-peace at anytime. In fact, our natural state is calm and happy, according to Yoga Sutra 1.3: United in the heart, consciousness steadies, and we abide in our true nature — joy.
The Yoga Sutras were compiled by the great Indian sage Patanjali sometime in the mid-second century BCE, and contains 192 essential pieces of knowledge for those seeking the yogic path. The Yoga Teacher Training program at Spirit of Yoga integrates this ancient knowledge and combines it with modern concepts, facilitating community Sutra discussions as students discover their own unique expression of yoga while honoring the practice’s roots and traditions.
While we’ve heard much about the physical benefits doing yoga, there are many additional benefits to living yoga. Today, we’re exploring happiness as defined by the principles outlined in the Yoga Sutras!
Yoga Sutra 1.33 advises: By cultivating attitudes of friendliness toward the happy, compassion for the unhappy, delight in the virtuous, and disregard toward the wicked, the mind-stuff retains its undisturbed calmness.
The True Self often mentioned in Yoga is the self who remains when we remove distracting influences and incorrect perceptions. What if, instead of reacting unconsciously to a difficult situation, we remind ourselves that we alone are responsible for our happiness and choose to act in a way that is authentic to our True Self?
We see this concept return in the fourth chapter of the Sutras, with Yoga Sutra 4.15: Although the same objects may be perceived by different minds, they are perceived in different ways, because those minds manifested differently.
When we realize that the lens we view each situation through is created by our own experiences and upbringing, we can cultivate compassion for the person perceived to be causing us difficulty. We achieve this by realizing they have their own experiences and upbringing that may lead them to believe their actions are helpful or correct.
It is also not up to us to try to change the perception or essence of another. Yoga Sutra 2.42 says: From contentment there flows the most excellent happiness and delight.
Happiness is a vital part of your overall health and, like physical wellness, it can’t be transferred to another’s experience. If you spend your energy trying to change other people, you’ll have no passion left over for improving your own life. We can, however, inspire others to discover their own True Self by honoring their individual path and setting an example of what’s possible.
Finally, Sutra 3.23 encourages us with the thought that: “Through experience and practice, friendliness is strengthened.” Happiness is a choice and a muscle that needs to be exercised. When we focus on things that bring joy to our experience, they begin to bloom everywhere!
What’s blooming in your personal landscape? Is there pruning that needs to be done? What seeds will you plant today? Let us know by connecting with us on Facebook and Instagram!