Sutra 1.2, as I blogged here, defines yoga as stilling the fluctuations of the mind. Yet it is sutra 2.1 starts to address what yoga practice is all about.
Accepting pain as help for purification, study and surrender to the Supreme Being constitute Yoga practice. sutra 2.1
This sutra really offers up the nitty-gritty of yoga and clearly demonstrates that yoga is so much more than just asana. Of course, depending on one’s intention, an asana practice can (and should) contain discipline, self-study and total surrender. Truly this is what can make the practice of asana a beautiful yogic experience and transform one’s life beyond the yoga mat. Unfortunately I think most today practicing asana miss out on the three essential elements stated in sutra 2.1 (discipline + study + surrender = aka kriya yoga) as they are only drawn to yoga as a fitness regime.
Personally, I absolutely can’t read sutra 2.1 without thinking about Sri Dharma Mittra and what originally drew me to him. It’s impossible to take a class with him and not hear him speak to this sutra in his own subtle way. He always says things like: Surrender the fruits of all actions. Study yoga text every day, even if just for a few minutes. Do a little asana every day (tapas) – a few minutes a day is better than three hours just one day a week.
Even as I do my home yoga practice and traverse around the streets of Arlington, VA and DC, I am constantly welcoming his voice in my head messaging sutra 2.1: The key to success is repetition (tapas). Invite every pose to be an offering (surrender). You have to find your own tricks (study). For the instructions of this sutra and the spiritual presence of Dharma Mittra in my life, I am forever gratefully humbled to be a Dharma yogi.