Tapah Svadhyaya Isvara Pranidhanani Kriya Yogah

Tapah Svadhyaya Isvara Pranidhanani Kriya Yogah

Patanjali's Sutra 2.1 defines the practice of Kriya Yoga, the Yoga of Action, as tapas (self-discipline), svadhyaya (self-reflection) and Isvara pranidhana (surrender to Isvara). Tapas, from the Sanskrit root "to heat," is the purification of body, mind and senses through consistent practice.  Svadhyaya is self-study and may involve reading philosophical or spiritual texts, the recitation of personal mantras, journaling and psychotherapy. Isvara pranidhana is surrender to God.  If you are uncomfortable with the "G word" please feel free to substitute a word that resonates: Divine, Soul, Creator, Beloved. BKS Iyengar states "This sutra represents the three great paths: Karma Yoga, Jnana Yoga and Bhakti Yoga." The path of action (karma yoga) is the practice of austerities (tapas) including asana (postures). The path of knowledge (jnana yoga) is the path to understanding one's self (svadhyaya). The path of love (bhakti yoga) is the path of complete surrender (pranidhana) to the effulgent and sorrowless light of Isvara. Tim Miller quotes his teacher, Pattabhi Jois, as having considered the mythological Hanuman, to be one of only two great yogis. What makes a great yogi?  The perfect balance of strength, intelligence and devotion.

Patanjali goes on to say in Sutra 2.2 that the intent of Kriya Yoga is to bring our innate intelligence into the foreground by removing the causes of suffering.  More on the five kleshas (afflictions) or root causes of suffering next month...