The true goal yoga is to help us build a vehicle that will support us on our journey in search of self. Both mat and zafu share the same goal to transcend, transform and transmute both the body and mind to help build a vessel worthy of the journey.
Yoga’s true goal is to lead us to a point where we discover we are both the potter and the clay. I didn’t understand this until I encountered Samkhya philosophy in the course of my studies. Samkhya is the ancient, cosmic science and technology behind Ayurveda and yoga, and it’s worth knowing what we are made off – pakriti, purusha, pranas, tejas, ojas, doshas, gunas, buddhi, manas, etc. One will come to understand why a sound body and mind are so essential for our spiritual journey when you know what makes up the ‘clay’.
I started doing yoga in my teens when I picked up a book by Richard Hittleman. Much later I signed up for a class which then led me to wanting to explore the source of this knowledge and practice. It took me first to Prashanti Kutiram, a yoga university cum ashram outside of Bangalore which then led me to Rishikesh to the Dayananda Ashram. It’s been quite a journey but what a journey it has been! At each of these places, there was so much to learn and discover. I remember how my tears just flowed the first time I heard Swamiji reciting the Bhagavad Gita. It felt like I had finally come home. But that’s another story.
Transcend, transform, transmute
In my own experience of yoga, as in Raja Yoga (or, as some call it, Patanjali’s Eight-limb Yoga), I find that I am truly both the potter’s wheel as well as the clay. My yoga sadhana is the power that turns the wheel and I, the lump of clay, is constantly being spun and shaped. Every time I get on my mat or zafu (meditation cushion), I am allowing the divine to animate the potter’s hands so that the creative energy which is like the water the potter dips into to shape the vessel, can help me to transcend, transform and transmute. Thus rendering this vessel, my body and mind, capable of withholding the energies of awakening.
This is the true goal of yoga. To be made travel-worthy, so that one can transcend, transform, and transmute the body and mind from a shapeless lump of clay into a vessel fit for the divine work that ensues the moment we ask ourselves: Who am I? Why am I here? What is the meaning of this life? Where am I going next? Not everyone needs to follow the Raja Yoga. There are the other 3 – Jnana, Bhakti and Karma Yoga. In my own practice, I have elements of all 4 while meditation undergirds everything.
Like our spiritual teacher would say: There is no awakening without meditation. You may read about it, intellectualise about it but at the end, you need to experience it for yourself every step of the way. Only then will you know the fruits of your sadhana or spiritual practice. But can you sit properly if your body isn’t up to it? That’s why we need both the mat and zafu. One cannot be without the other. What you do on the mat goes beyond just building a sturdy body because frankly, yoga will do you, turn you inside out. And then when you climb atop the zafu, that’s going to take you even deeper.
And if you’d like to know more about Raja Yoga, please click on the photos below to hear it from the masters themselves. Cultivating a body that can transform, transmute and transcend the energies that will come is really important. So remember always to listen to your body and what it’s telling you. Your body is very wise and the voice of your inner teacher will become stronger as you grow into your sadhana. Your inner teacher is very real. No doubt about that.
~ ॐ ~