Ask any yoga practitioner “what does yoga give to you” and the most likely answer would be “PEACE”. We can probably all agree that we enjoy practicing yoga because we feel more grounded, stable, and peaceful.
Millions of yoga practitioners enjoy the calming and relaxing impact of yoga in their daily SADHANA (yoga practice done on regular basis with an intention of evolving spiritually). Yoga asana, pranayama, practices of concentration (dharna), and being in a state of meditation harmonize the nervous activity, resulting in a more relaxed and calm emotional and physical state.
Let’s take a look at this idea further by exploring the concept of peace from a philosophical angle and turning our attention to the scriptures of yoga. In the Vedic tradition, scriptures have been given the utmost importance and have been treated as an eventual authority in the case of any doubts.
Studying the philosophical view of samkhya and the yoga system, it becomes clear that yoga as a practice in itself doesn’t provide peace. So why do I feel peaceful and calm, could be your natural reply to this statementand that would be completely understandable. Yoga doesn’t provide us with peace; in fact, yoga practice makes us realize that our true nature is peace. If we acquire peace, then that would mean that we may lose it at some point, acquire it once again, and continue in this cycle, thus making peace situational and not a constant reality. Yoga equates the real nature of our being with a spectator who only observes the experience and is not actually involved in it. Peace is the attribute of the spectator and being in real nature doesn’t provide us with peace as nature itself is peaceful.
That being said why don’t we always feel peaceful and why does peace come naturally post yoga practice?
Eastern philosophical systems give us the following answer:
The mind consists of mental, emotional and intellectual processing. These faculties operate simultaneously and travel through 3 different states:
- Sleep state
As we are ever occupied with the operations of the mind and its constant travelling from one state to another, the real self (the spectator) gets entangled in these operations; one assumes itself as part of the experience, completely forgetting the real nature (spectator) is essentially a non-participative phenomenon. It’s like standing on a railway platform and watching a train chugging into the station and falsely assuming that you and the platform are moving as well.
With consistent practice of the disciplines of yoga, one begins to understand the functioning of the faculties of the mind and learns the art of staying with the real nature until one becomes the real nature.
In conclusion, yoga helps us realize that we are essentially an ever-flowing reservoir of peace rather than actually giving us peace. Theoretically understandable, however experientially, it’s a difficult task that requires lifelong practice and discipline. Don’t worry, we all are in the same boat. Let us all keep trying and lifting each other up on this journey to our true nature.