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Yoga is for everyone: YSP 1.22

1.22 – mridu madhya adhimatra tatah api visheshah

There still remains a difference based on distinct temperaments:  gentle, moderate, and lively. – translation by Bernard Bouanchaud

Inevitably the depth of faith varies with different individuals and at different times with the same individual. The results will reflect these variations.  — translation by Desikachar

For those with intense practices and intense conviction (1.21), there are three more subdivisions of practice, those of mild intensity, medium intensity, and intense intensity. – translation by Swami J

This sutra is meant to be read in conjunction with the one previous to it – For those impelled by intense ardour, the goal is near – and let’s just take a quick refresher here.

What goal? – achieving the state of yoga, defined as the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind. Chapter One, and there will be four chapters in total, is entitled Contemplation. It’s a text about devotion and the inner experience. It’s also an answer to that universal question “What causes suffering?” Patanjali lays it out rather clearly in the open parts of the chapter. My suffering is caused by my mind and since it’s my mind that is the source of my suffering, the solution lies there as well. Patanjali goes on to define the mind and then lays out the two principal components of yoga as a method:

Abhyasa and Vairagya – the persistent and continuing practice while letting go of the results – in other words, removing my ego from the equation.

Right now, we’re in the section where Patanjali is telling us that there are two kinds of yogis – those born with the right stuff and those of us, like me, who have to work for it. A person is either born with it or they cultivate those qualities over time. Most of us landed firmly in the ‘over time’ category. For us, it’s a cumulative and progressive history towards the goal of Enlightenment. Last week, Patanjali told us that the goal was near, nearer than we think and the harder I work towards the goal, the nearer it will be for me.

Again, yoga recognizes that not all of us can sell off our worldly goods, abandon the family obligations and go live in a cave where we can meditate 18 hours out of every day. Some of us hold down day jobs! Additionally, we all have differing personalities. Some people are just naturally go-getters. For others, like me, my go went a while back. But Patanjali is telling me that it doesn’t matter. If I maintain my conviction, keep my energy focused on the task at hand, I will get to goal in my own time. In other words, yoga is not the sole preserve of the most ascetic meditators. It’s also for people like me – the householder, with my family and career and financial obligations.

You can see from the translations above that different authors make a slight deviation in their approach to this sutra. Bouanchaud sees it as temperament while Desikachar and Swami J see it as a matter of faith. The upcoming sutras are going to talk about some of the ways towards the goal that are more suited to certain personalities than others. Again, yoga is a broad discipline that provides people with flexible approaches to their goals. In this case, all roads will lead to Rome eventually, and we just need to find the road that suits us best at this time.

Next week, we’ll take a look at the Bhakti Road or the path of devotion.

Until then, thanks for reading and Namaste,



About Kate MacKay

I'm a certified Viniyoga teacher, in Fredericton, NB. I was a 9-1-1 operator and emergency services dispatcher for 22 years. Surprisingly, the two worked well together, or as I liked to put it, from the sublime to the ridiculous -- all in a day's work. I'm currently off work as a result of a stress-induced cardiac condition that's thrown a few crimps in my lifestyle. I'm not actively teaching yoga in the classroom right now and probably won't for several more months. That said, this blog is one of the forms of practice I can do and I thank you for joining me in this exploration of all things yoga.

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