I’ve started reading Kaminoff’s Yoga Anatomy again. I hope now that I understand a bit more overall about yoga I’ll be able to get more benefit from it compared to a bewildering first perusal. I’m still in the front-matter and loving their notion of the body as laboratory for the exploration of what it means to be human and the interpretation of Patanjali’s niyamas in the context of asana practice:
“Yoga speaks of getting at something deep inside of use — the true self. The goal of this quest is often stated in mystical terms, implying that our true selves exist on some nonmaterial plane. This book takes the opposing stand that in order to go deeply inside ourselves, we must journey within our physical bodies. Once there, we will not only understand our anatomy but also directly experience the reality that gives rise to the core concepts of yoga. This is a truly embodied experience of spirituality. We make a clear distinction between mystical (the claim to the perception of a supernatural reality experienced by some extrasensory means) and spiritual (from the Latin spiritus, meaning breath, the animating, sensitive, or vital principle of the individual)…
The ancient teachings we’ve inherited were developed through the enlightened observation of life in all its forms and expressions. The skilful observation of humans gave rise to the possibility of yoga practice (kriya yoga) classically formulated by Patanjali and restated by Reinhold Niebuhr in his famous serenity prayer [“Grant to us the serenity of mind to accept that which cannot be changed, courage to change that which can be changed, and wisdom to know the one from the other”]. Within this practice we orient our attitudes toward the discernment (swadhyaya) to distinguish the things we can change (tapah) from the things we cannot change (isvara pranidhana).
Isn’t this a prime motivation to study anatomy in the context of yoga? We want to know what’s inside of us so we can understand why some things are relatively easy to change and other seem so difficult. How much energy should we devote to working through our own resistance? When should we work on surrendering to something that’s not likely to change? Both require effort. Surrender is an act of will. These are never-ending questions with answers that seem to change every day — precisely why we should never stop posing them.”
image credit: http://www.do-meditation.com/white-skeleton-meditation.html#sthash.ntOxgwAR.dpbs.