Heritage of Yoga

Sacrifice:  What it means to me and how it relates to my yoga.

Sacrifice begins with the idea that I am giving up something of value to gain something I believe to be of greater value.

I give up that which is small for that which is great.  At any point the elements of this can range from the mundane to the esoteric.  My view can expand from the immediate to beyond the boundaries of birth and death.  Yet the acts that I perform may not be different to the external eye.  So to gain a deeper understanding I must examine my view and my intentions.  I must return to myself rather than the actions or objects of my sacrifice.

When I think of what sacrifice means to me I believe it is my aspiration to find in the living of my life the constant offering of my personal agenda to the experience of wholeness.  My wish to relinquish my sense of self as separate.

Taking the idea of sacrifice to my yoga practice, I think of the rituals that weave through my life.  If I hold yoga as the asana practice that I perform and teach, then I think of the many actions which carry the elements of sacrifice.  I can hold the taking off of my shoes as the beginning of the ritual that makes the transistion from one state of awareness to another.  The stepping out of my everyday life into the world of carefully intended action.  In this action I am choosing to give a certain amount of time in pursuit of an attentiveness that brings a feeling of well-being.  As I move through my practice I choose one asana over an other to gain mastery in a certain direction.  I pay attention to the placing of my body or the movement of my breath to observe a particular so I can better understand where my trouble lies or know the value of a particular movement.

As a teacher I both hold the space of the ritual of sacrifice and am a participant.  Taking our shoes off establishes the container in which we practice.  The asanas we practice and the instructions become the path of our ritual.  In this space we offer our time and energy to gain insight and inspiration.  We see ourselves in each other.  As we travel the path of yoga together we notice how what we want from our yoga changes as our practice gains depth.  But the ritual of sacrifice falls short of our intentions if we do not allow it to expand beyond our mat.

When I hold my yoga practice as my life, the rituals of sacrifice broaden into life lessons and realizations.  Small insights illuminate larger patterns of behavior.  After years of fear, anger, frustration and a sense of defeat around certain poses I let go of accomplishing them.  My small mind had clung to these emotions and blocked any curiosity or sense of wonder.  Speaking the truth about these aspects of myself that I would rather not admit, allowed me to sacrifice my pride to gain honesty.  When I am honest I can see how I limit my experience and place these limitations outside myself.  Telling the truth gives me room to grow.

To me this is the role of sacrifice in yoga.  To sacrifice that which binds me to a limited self.  If I hold my yoga practice as my accomplishments then all my rituals of sacrifice are small and do not bring me to my greater goal.  If I hold my yoga practice as a path of awareness that permeates my life, then even the small rituals of sacrifice carry me to greater understanding.


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