This year, our studio themes will continue to be drawn from the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali—perhaps the most-referenced text of yoga philosophy amongst western students. Though the text itself can seem intimidating or hard to connect to, we’ve found that by bringing its concepts into discussion with others, the ideas it presents become immediately applicable to modern life. And this is always the case with philosophy—it is meant to be tested against our lived experience, and ideally discussed with others who are wrestling with the same questions we are.
The understanding of what “yoga” is has admittedly been stretched in all kinds of ways, to the extent that it can be hard to know whether we’re all even talking about the same thing. But the path discussed in the Sutras—one of disciplined practice leading toward transformation and peace—is one that endures across time and place. We’re excited to dive into this conversation together this year!
In overview the Eight Limbs of Yoga include the following:
Pranayama (Breath Control/Breathwork)
Pratyahara (Withdrawal of the Senses)
Samadhi (Pure Contemplation)
This month’s focus will be on the first limb, Yama—the idea of restraint or self-control. It seems an appropriate one to unpack in the month of January, when so many people commit to New Year’s Resolutions that have some flavor of restraint to them (“Ill stop consuming sugar/alcohol/social media/etc) in the hopes of creating some kind of elevated experience of well-being.
It seems to me that, when focusing on this kind of self-discipline, it becomes especially important to ask why. What benefit does the refusal of something bring you? It seems to me that for a resolution to be meaningful, the restraint piece needs to be accompanied by some positive experience that goes beyond just being good/pure/compliant with your own rules.
So when you decide to remove something from your life, it’s equally important to ask: what might I want to bring in more of?
Also flip this question around: if I want to create a particular experience for myself, what obstacles, both internal and external, might I need to clear out of the way?
We look forward to this year of exploring the Sutras further with you all. The contemplations they provide are endlessly interesting, especially when brought into conversation with others. Individually and collectively, what might we be ready to clear out? As the new year begins, what are we clearing space for?
All of us at Indi love being part of a community that supports this kind of reflection—and the kind of positive action that extends from it. Can’t wait to see where we go from here!
Much love and thanks for reading,
Erin H/Indi Yoga