Devotion in Yoga

Family and holidays are at the fore of your mind this time of year, with yoga often receding to the background. Of course, you use yoga to recover from overdoing it, whether it’s the food, other pleasures, or the pressures of inner and outer expectations. Yet the sages of India describe devotion as an essential part of yoga as well as life. Might you be able to approach your holiday events as a yoga unto themselves?

Patanjali says three qualities are required of you if you want to succeed in yoga: consistent practice, over a long haul, and with devotion. In other words, you have to put your heart in it, like with anything else that matters to you. If you don’t really care about a job, you’ll lose it. If you don’t put your heart into a relationship, it dies. Even your houseplants will die if you don’t care about them. Fortunately, it’s really easy to care about your yoga.

You care about the people you’ll be spending time with during the holidays. Even if they push your buttons, even if past history makes it hard for you or you’re not getting what you want out of the encounter, you still care about them. How beautiful! It proves that your ability to care is more expanded than mere circumstance could explain. Yoga will make your heart even bigger, which is another reason to love yoga.

As you deepen into your own essence, the purpose of all of yoga’s practices, you bring your heart with you everywhere you go. It’s not a needy heart any more, not lonely or scared, because it’s being filled from a deeper inner source, called your capital-S Self. Meditation makes you able to plug into that source directly, even to live from the ever-arising inner flow of Divine Light.

This is why Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras are mostly about meditation, with the breathing and poses being valuable preparation for looking inward. When you stop moving, take time to find the stillness and delve into it. It is this inward exploration that provides the exalted promises the texts describe: inner freedom and ease, obstacles disappear, the blossoming forth of your Inherent Divinity. In this way, yoga makes it easy to spend time with those you love. They love when the light shines through you, and you love to see the light shining in them. You have to find the source.

Meditation is the key. My Guru said, “Dive deeper and deeper within.” Most importantly, he made it easy, giving me tools to bypass the mind’s habitual craziness, to dive deeper within. From my very first meditation with him, I experienced the deeper dimension within. And it just keeps getting better, even after more than 40 years of doing it like he taught. Deepening into Self makes all of life better, even when the events or relationships are hard. I have learned a new way to love, without need or expectations. It makes my life very full and gives me the ability to share the Light of Consciousness, arising from its source.

Yoga gives you a new ability to love. Instead of a needy kind of love, you can cultivate a rich and full overflowing that arises from within. For this, you need to root down into your own innermost essence, what yoga calls your Self. Discover your own capital-S Self, your own Divine Essence. Then you can take your Self with you, everywhere you go, even to holiday events with your nearest and dearest.

Satguru Swami Nirmalananda Saraswati leads Svaroopa® Vidya Ashram in Downingtown PA. Honored both in India and America, she is an inspiring teacher with a loving manner and a great sense of humor. Before becoming a swami (yoga monk), as Rama Berch, she served the yoga community as the founding president of Yoga Alliance. Traveling and teaching nationally and internationally, she is authorized to initiate people into deep meditation through Shaktipat, as did Swami Muktananda, her own Guru. The Ashram website features extensive Freebies, including articles and audio recordings on the principles of consciousness as taught by the sages of India, as well as how to apply them in your life today.

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