philosophy

Body thy shrine, Yoga thy light

This text was given as a speech December 6, 2015 in Pune, India.

Guruji has often said- body is my temple, asanas are my prayer. He has said that the body is the bow, asanas the arrow and the target is the soul. His autobiography was named, Body thy shrine, Yoga thy light.

In this piece, I would like to present my understanding of these expressive yet enigmatic statements.

Let us analyze the first statement, the body is my temple and asanas are my prayers. In the temple resides the divinity. For the body to become a temple, the divinity has to be brought into your body. And how do you call divinity? That is through invocation, through prayer.

The Yoga Sūtra of Patañjali | Sādhana Pāda

"…For me, as someone for whom many, if not most, asanas can still be quite strenuous and painful, it shows me that I still have a long way to go. It’s humbling when you’re in class and you need more props to do an asana than everyone else in the class- when you’re doing, say, Prasarita Padottanasa, and you need two blocks under your head, where everyone else can use one or can bring their head all the way to the floor. And you know you can’t cheat, because if you do you’ll either do the pose incorrectly or hurt yourself (or both). Accepting that that’s where you are physically I think is also tapas; as it creates humility in you, it effects psychological purification."

Presence, Personality and Practice

Today is like any other day for Mr. X. He plans to go to the office, meet a friend for lunch at noon and leave precisely at 5pm to get to yoga class. Then everything goes wrong. Traffic makes him late for work, his lunch date reschedules and he gets a flat tire on the way to class. With every unexpected turn, Mr. X grows increasingly more agitated. By the time he’s speeding down the freeway, he’s in a state of rage. He has entered a mindset of total reactivity, and woe betides the person who cuts him off.