Yoga started out as predominantly spiritual discipline. However, in today’s world, yoga philosophy is still something very abstract for most yoga students and the spiritual dimension of yoga is all but ignored.
However, yoga philosophy offers many practical and valuable lessons of profound relevance to our daily lives, says renowned yoga teacher Judith Hanson Lasater in this free talk.
In the Yoga Sutras, in particular, Judith notes, Patanjali describes the practices of yoga as a technique to enter a state of profound settlement of mind and body in which “the Seer abides in his own nature.”
In other words, Judith notes, yoga is not just a series of postures. It is first and foremost a state of Being. Yet, in present-day Western culture, yoga is often approached purely as a physical exercise.
In so doing, however, we miss out on one of the most important lessons yoga philosophy, i.e. the differentiation of our true self, of who we really are, says Judith.
The message of yoga philosophy is that we are not our thoughts. We are the spacious silence behind thought, Judith notes.
Once we gain this realization as a living experience, it frees us to no longer identify with our thoughts and our experiences.
We don’t live in the universe, the universe lives through us, as opposed to thought.
So the most important experience any human being can ever have is the experience of understanding thought as something that’s just neurotransmitters locking into receptor sites, it is not, who we are, it is not our identity.
This is the process of disidentification, which yoga students often begin to experience in e.g. a supported sweet Savasana at the end of practice. This is the first step towards a life of much greater wholeness, health, and ease, Judith notes, and ultimately, the solution to suffering.
You may also be interested in Judith Hanson Lasater’s course: Introduction to Yoga Philosophy and Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras.