We spent a lot of time this month speaking of the cultivation of ease in our lives and yoga postures – sukha. But there is another essential facet of the sukha experience which in some ways eclipses the idea of ease, and that is JOY. Joy is key in the yoga practice: we cultivate it, and the experience of it is the culmination of the yoga experience.
The Joy referred to in yoga is a spirit rooted, inspired state which arises from within as our practice unfolds It differs from an outward kind of happiness or pleasure in that it grows in stability over time as we become established in our well-done practices, it’s lack of correlation with so-called “happy” experiences in life, and that it emerges from within. My personal experience, the few times I’ve touched it, is that it’s flavor is truly sweet.
This deeper flavor of sukha is connected with primarily through our cultivation and openness to our inner development and practices, breathwork, devotion to our relationship with our higher power, meditation, and sacred text study. You may have other inner practices which serve as deepeners in your personal spiritual recipe. It’s the deepeners which bring us to yogic Joy. Joy is this form is also met through good service to others. This doesn’t mean necessarily running down to the local soup kitchen to ladle soup to the homeless, although it could mean that. It means truly seeking to render service in whatever role you have assumed, whether it be a clerk or the president, a school teacher or a musician. You may have discovered that joy of this nature is infectious. If you have ever been blessed by the experience of having your table waited on by someone who is embodying true service…it can almost be giddying to be in the presence of such a person.
Another aspect of Joy to consider is that when Patanjali (an ancient sage and expert on yoga) tells us in his seminal work “The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali” that our postures should be stable and joyful, he’s advising us that we don’t need to suffer. This is very very important. Yoga is not a “no pain no gain”. endeavor. Everything that yoga has to offer is encompassed in an ever increasing stability in the state of joy. You are meant to be happy. The work in the practice though, is the discovery of what happiness truly is.
May you have a blessed and wonderful week and I hope to see you in class today! Links below.
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