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Yoga From the Outside In

Open Heart

Yoga provides us with an austere inner discipline and self-control. Yet, this inner discipline is often a result of many committed external practices. Many of the yamas and niyamas extol the virtues of external practice. The yamas and niyamas are essentially habits that guide us to foster self-discipline and control. Without a commitment to the practice of yoga, to the practice of self-discipline and control, transformation will wither in the chrysalis.

There are certainly moments when we may experience transcendent moments without much outward discipline at all, but more likely than not, transcendence is an experience that we earn with focused commitment to the yamas and niyamas.

We are born broken by our very nature. We are imperfect beings. We all have issues from our earlier life that affect our disposition. The shaker of our destiny is the darkness that spirals in each of us. Without that form of pull, we are persons of mere indolence. As much as the dimness is our shaker of purpose, it is also our destroyer. This is where our commitment to practice can offer an avenue of redemptive transformation.

Our commitment to practice tames the inner upheavals so that we can navigate our lives when we break from the chrysalis and fly upwards to the denizens of greatness, serving not our individuality, but to the greater cause of expanding the consciousness of man and to the greater service of our communities.

External practices that soften our broken nature can take many forms. They propel us into a journey where we seek, and often with much commitment to those practices, experience transcendence.

Neuroscientists call it integration. Spiritualists call it union. Modern psychology approaches call it wholeness. We get to transcendence through deep commitment to practice. I particularly advocate the art of yoga to tame the inner fires, but there are others practices as well. Simple daily routines can help us tame the inner fires as well.

Ablution, abhyanga, prayer, and a simple and clean diet are just a few other external practices that help contour and discipline our inner, broken nature. The key to the success of outside practices affecting our inner world is commitment and we need a few different practices that address our whole bodies.

Our external practice is the key into the inner terrain. When our commitments and relationships to the outside world are toxic our relationship to our inner world will be filtered through that, and our relationship to our inner world will be toxic. It is rare that transcendent experience is found in toxicity, though that is not to say that we cannot find beauty in the profane.  We usually find that covered beauty in a process of purification.

Sometimes we can focus too much on the inner adulations and forget all about how important the external practice is to the shaping of our inner world. The outside practice lends itself a very polished and primed stage for powerful inner workings.

Let’s keep the outside well oiled and primed as a way to not only honor the inside, but to contour it in such a way that more times than not we find extraordinary in the ordinary.

Om Shanti Om ~ Athea


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