They (the 3 principles of kriya yoga)help us minimize obstacles and attain samadhi
That Yoga of action (kriya yoga) is practiced to bring about samadhi and to minimize the colored thought patterns (kleshas)
Here, Patanjali is giving a rationale for practising Kriya Yoga – to minimize the obstacles and attain samadhi. Everything we do in our asana practice is all part of our preparation for meditation and samadhi.
1.7 Correct knowledge is direct, inferred or proven as factual
Of these five, there are three ways of gaining correct knowledge 1) perception, 2) inference, and 3) testimony or verbal communication from others who have knowledge.
Correct perception may be acquired directly, by correct analysis or by correct reference.
So this is talking about 1.6, about how there are five types of thoughts, and the first one is correct knowledge. The first way of obtaining correct knowledge (by which I mean knowledge which is true) is through direct perception. Iyengar states that initially our perceptions should be checked with logic and then to see if it corresponds with traditional wisdom. He also says that practicing yoga asanas, brings intelligence to the surface, which then sharpens our ability to discriminate between our perceptions. I suppose this happens through being more aware of the body during asana practice, through being conscious of the balances and imbalances throughout the body, this in turn allows for the quietening of the mind.
I like the way that this sutra seems to value direct experience over hearing something, even if it is from an expert. This fits with my own personal view of the world, which is largely influenced by Zen Buddhism. I like the way in Zen that there are few things to ‘believe’, if any, it is all to do with your own direct experience. I struggle when belief systems or religions require people to ‘believe’ things, to take them at face value, rather than to experience things for themselves and then make their own minds up. I suppose these religions could be said to be forming the ‘testimony of experts’ part of this sutra, but it seems to me that these three ways of forming correct knowledge should fit together, rather than just follow something in blind faith without any direct experience or reasoning. True knowledge should fit with your direct experience, your reasoning and what experts say.
What I struggle most with is time management. I get to the end of each day feeling like I’ve achieved little and wondering where the time went. A couple of years ago I went down to working two and a half days a week, thinking it would improve my work-life balance. It has, to a point. I am no longer so tired on my days off that I don’t have the energy to do anything, but am still left feeling scattered.
I think I am guilty of trying to do too much, and achieving too little. I’m always trying new things, new hobbies, but feel I don’t stick at things. Am I looking for sense gratification? Probably. I take too much on, too many commitments. But maybe this is my obsession with ‘achieving’. Maybe it’s ok to try things, just for the experience of trying them, without a need to ‘achieve’ anything.
I struggle to maintain a regular asana / pranayama / meditation practice. Partly because having a 7yr old who doesn’t play on her own much in the house does not always make for ideal conditions, interruptions, etc. The other part is because I live in a small two-bedroom flat – if I want to do yoga, I have to do it in the lounge due to lack of space, and if everyone else wants to eat their breakfast then that’s not ideal either. In a few weeks we are moving to a much larger house, I could even have a whole room dedicated to yoga. I look forward to that. But then I shall have no excuses.
When I d have time, another issue is that of eating. If I have the luxury of practising asanas in the morning (which I prefer), then I can have a strong coffee and get going. If I practice later in the day, the issue of how long since the last meal becomes an issue. If it’s a work day, then I’m always famished when I come in, and it’s hard to find the right-sized snack. Ah, but I procrastinate…