Tato dvandvānabhighātaḥ PYS II.48
When posture is mastered, there is a cessation of the disturbances caused by the pairs of opposites…whether physical, mental or spiritual
Most translations go on to give examples of opposites. Common ones are: like/dislike, love/hate, relative/universal, hot/cold… And that’s where I got stuck. I, like you, have noticed how yoga has influenced my choices and my outlook over the years. I am less attached to my likes and dislikes, habitual preferences that create cycles of suffering are easier to see. All of them are still there of course, but I get how asana embued with the qualities of the two preceding sutras work towards the cessation this sutra indicates. Except for hot/cold.
I really really don’t like the cold. If I could transplant my family, close loved ones, and yoga community to New Orleans tomorrow, I would do it. Without thinking twice.
All of which meant this particular duality bore closer inspection, and I happened to re-cross its path during late winter, so it was great timing.
While walking down the street I realized I could, in fact, diminish the cold. I could begin ujjayi breathing. I could focus on a mantra. I could draw my body in towards the central line. I could catch myself before I start to complain about the cold to myself or someone else – which only ever makes it more present, entrenched, and generally worse. The cold could be like another teacher, who I would not speak poorly about either in its presence or not. I could stop making it bad and just let it be itself. As I would let a tree be its tree self, my mom herself, my dog himself. I could also stay right in the uncomfortableness until it shifts, without trying to fix it in any particular way – like pigeon pose and how my outer hip felt when I first learned it.
Asana had actually taught me valuable and multiple ways to deal with it.
This was a reminder, which we must revisit again and again, that asana and yoga never change anything or anyone external to us. The only thing asana and yoga ever work on is ourselves. You diminish the dualities, they do not diminish.
To work with this in your next asana class, or really at any time, watch your self-talk for dualistic language especially of good/bad. Watch for trying to fix bad with forcing good, or vice versa. Watch your conversation indicators of listening for dualistic tones, and figure out how to make your language match your yoga.