A Conversation with Manouso Manos
Yoga: The Art of Transformation.
Manouso Manos gave a lecture at the Asian Art Museum as part of this exhibition. He describes yoga, past and present, and the life of BKS Iyengar, his teacher. Check it out.
NPR story about BKS Iyengar:
From a lecture given by Birjoo Metha at “Yoganusasanam 2014″
What is the difference between individual consciousness and universal consciousness?
Imagine a river coursing through the landscape. Then there is a lot of rain and the water comes down fast into the river and it breaks its banks and over flows into the surrounding area. When the waters subside there are ponds left over that are filled with the river water but are no longer connected to the river itself. Banks develop around these ponds and the river continues on it’s way. After a while, these ponds develop their own life within the boundaries, or confines of the pond edges. The pond is the individual consciousness. The river is the universal consciousness. The water always wants to join the river so it can see itself. Our practice is to try and break the boundaries of our individual consciousness to join the flow of universal consciousness rather like the pond breaking it’s banks. We have to let go of the identities that exist and let water return to the universal consciousness.
The Yoga Sutras by Patanjali
This text is a concise, compact exploration of the various facets of life and how they affect us physically, emotionally and spiritually. The text offers concrete suggestions of how to adopt the principles of yoga to overcome and manage life’s stresses and strains. We offer a few sutras at a time to learn, think about, and perhaps use in one’s daily life.
The commentary used is mainly that of BKS Iyengar as his understanding of the yoga sutras is through his own experience of practice of asana and how it pertains to understanding this text more deeply. Occassionally other translations and commentaries will be used and will be noted appropriately.
Aparigraha – the art of not being greedy. Letting go of the need to acquire.
“By the observance of aparigraha, the yogi makes his life as simple as possible and trains his mind not to feel the loss or the lack of anything. Then everything he really needs will come to him by itself at the proper time.” –B.K.S. Iyengar
“One who is not greedy is secure. S/he has time to think deeply. His/Her understanding of him/herself is complete. The more we have, the more we need to take care of it. The time and energy spent on acquiring more things, protecting them, and worrying about them cannot be spent on the basic questions of life. What is the limit to what we should possess? For what purpose, for whom, and for how long? Death comes before we have had time to begin to consider these questions.” T.V. Desikachar.
Aparigraha is the last of the 5 yamas. It is translated as non-hoarding or non-collecting. Like asteya, non-stealing, aparigraha begins with the trust that we will get our needs met. From that trust is born the confidence to let go of what no longer serves us, knowing that if we need it again later, it will come back to us. The practice of aparigraha can be as simple as breath awareness. When we exhale completely, allowing ourselves to be empty for a moment, we are affirming our trust that on the other side of the breath, there is a whole ocean of air just waiting to rush into our lungs and fill us with life force. When we inhale completely, we are proclaiming our worthiness to be fully alive, to experience that aliveness, to savor it for a moment and–when it is time–to let it go. We do this over and over again in our yoga practice–retaining exquisite awareness of our life-giving breath, and we feel fulfilled, complete on the very cellular level. The tense places in the body begin to loosen as we move and breathe mindfully, and we directly experience what it means to let go of what is no longer useful so that we have the space to welcome something new.
Try and identify something that you can let go of in your life to make room for a new experience. It could be old clothes occupying space, thoughts cluttering our minds, relationships that have outlived their meaningfulness, moldy cheese in the fridge–anything that could be released to make some precious space to experience our own creative potential.
Start with the exhalation, to allow yourself to be empty, and to remember over and over again that this letting go is what makes space for the next moment, the next experience–the realization of our authentic self beyond the world of form.
When we let go of something that we are holding on to, be it a decades old t-shirt or a self-limiting belief, we are able to reclaim our creative power. It is in the silence that inner music can be detected, it is on the blank canvas that the new painting can appear, it is in the absence of habitual thought that inspiration can manifest.
But space can be scary, really scary. When confronted with all of our power, we might feel the impulse to run away screaming. This is where our practice comes in. We practice for courage. We breathe. We attempt the pose that has been intimidating us, and maybe we falter, but we know we can try again when we’re ready. And so we develop strength, and tenacity, and we hold our vision and send energy toward it, moving into more expansive, healthier, happier, balanced selves with each aware breath.