Why Should I Care? Fall Sutra Study Series at Mala Yoga
Fall is a turning point in the year. The air cools, the days shorten, and we instinctively turn inward to prepare for the coming cold. It is a time of returning to or starting projects, often more introspective ones. In America, this is the time for heading back to school.
Saraswati, one of the trinity of goddesses in the Indian mythological pantheon, is associated with the season autumn. She represents the pursuit of learning in all its forms, especially in music, arts, and philosophy.
Combined, this is the perfect time to begin study of the Yoga Sutras.
This series will be presented once a month for three months. Students have the choice of taking all three sessions for a discounted price, or taking them individually as time and interest allow. Please visit Mala’s website for pricing and times.
We begin our study with an exploration of how yoga is in some ways much younger, and in others, much older than we might have imagined. This session will cover the historical context and reasons for the advent of yoga. Examining the traditions out of which yoga emerged sets the stage to analyze key yoga sutras, and study the ways in which Patanjali challenged traditions of his time. We finish with discussion of how those key concepts remain relevant today, and find ways of working with those practices in day-to-day life.
Altogether, this session informs our own reasons for practicing, and clarifies your answers to the question “What is your yoga practice?” It also provides a background for next month’s study of karma, a concept originating in a similar historical context as yoga, and, also much like yoga, undergoing refinement and transformation as it passed through schools of Indian philosophy into the present day.
Karma in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras
This term reaches back to the Vedic period, predating Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras and evolving significantly over time. Today, the concept of karma is prevalent in our culture. It is the name of a line of yoga clothing, it explains the ability (or lack thereof) to acquire a parking space, it is the term given to yoga studio work-study, it even furthers plot points on TV and movies. It’s given as the reason why you find a dollar on the floor an instant after giving up your subway seat, or why a person always seems to be unlucky. From the mundane, to the commercial, to the transcendental, karma is there. It has become deeply woven into American and Western culture. It can leave many yogis wondering, “How are all of these disparate uses related to the actual word?” “Which, if all, if any, are true to the meaning, and therefore the practice, of karma?”
This sutra study session delves into karma as it is understood specifically in the yoga tradition of Patanjali. We will explore such questions as how karma relates to reincarnation and death, what role it plays in ideas such as free will and destiny, how it is relevant to personal, daily choice, and more. If time allows we will briefly compare Patanjali’s explication of karma with those of other yoga-related texts, such as the Bhagavad Gita, Upanishads, and Hatha Yoga Pradipika.
The Householder Yogi
For many, November is marked by celebrations that encourage us to reflect on our relationship to others: family, friends, and community.
While the Classical yogi was an ascetic who would withdraw to the forest or a cave in the Himalayas to meditate and study his self, modern-day yogis often have responsibilities in forms of partners, children, and jobs. This is the age of the “Householder” yogi, one who must navigate the cities and towns. Together, we will look at how the yoga sutras not only remain applicable, but provide tools for the practitioner to examine and redefine paradigms of self and other.
Sutras which speak to the role of others in the life of a yogi, the role the yogi plays in the lives of others, and those that are tools for dealing with the complications of having householder responsibilities in addition to a yoga practice will be covered.
These sessions are designed to be relevant to students at various levels of study and practice. They will augment Teacher Training Philosophy Sections, address questions of those familiar with Patanjali’s work, as well as introduce concepts to the yogi starting out on the Yoga Sutra path. An emphasis on conversation and participation is always part of Jen’s Sutra Study Workshops. Wearing the traditional white for satsang is optional.