‘The first step is to get confused’: Pune Class Notes- Prashant (participated) 11.12.19

This was a fascinating lecture, and one that I’ve had to spend some time unpicking. My notes below do not do it justice, but hopefully give a sense of the depth of enquiry in which we are engaged in the practice of yoga, in the practice of living. Life is confusing. Unless confusion is accepted and analysed, it breeds fear and anger. If it is accepted and analysed it becomes curiosity, and curiosity is inherently hopeful. The conditions are set. So do we choose fear and anger or curiosity and hope? I have woken up this morning to what appears to me a confusing and confused political situation in my country. On a national level, confusion has led to fear and anger. We need to awaken our curiosity and fuel our hope. 

Analyse the process.

Observe the unified activity and dynamics of body, mind, breath.

When doing swastikasana for the prayer/invocation, this is done form the heart; so what comes out is humility, purity.

What is the purpose and function of the act? Are the act and purpose compatible? The gesture must fit the purpse.

We have to find out what is the chemistry of humility, of purity.

What is the gravity of the act? For example, when in swastikasana for prayer or for asana, this is not the same thing. If you do a very ‘proper Iyengar yoga’ swastikanasa for invocation then this is not appropriate; it is too hard; the gesture does not fit the purpose.


Body mind breath getting unified in different proportions.

Now do ‘dorsal major’ swastikasana. Now do ‘lumbar major’ swastikasana.

Strong asana is not appropriate for prayers, as it provides space for the ego to blossom. For example, in sirsasana, the ego is part of your materials hold the pose. It is a condition necessary to the process.

Consider the diagnostic conditions. Then it will be pragmatic, not dogmatic. Yoga is not dogmatic.

In the frame of discipline, there is a danger that we become dogmatic. Understand in what proportion discipline should come.

Take for example the proportions in a recipe. Discipline is a masala (mixed ground spice). Nobody ever says that discipline is very very tasty. It is a masala; you have to get the right proportions. Do you put the same amount of discipline into savasana as urdvha danuarasana? It is there, but its manifestation is different. From watery and bitter to thick and sweet. Adjust the ingredients proportionally in body, mind, breath.

Yoga is initiated by process, not actions.

What you do should not be what a teacher says; it should be from your own pragmatism. Beginners, yes, in the beginning they have to follow, but now you have to work from your own pragmatism. Iyengar yoga is not ‘practical’; that makes my blood boil. It is pragmatic.

Those who are the best assessors of others are the worst at assessing themselves.

If people come up to me and say ‘Oh, that was a really wonderful class’, I know that I have been allowing my ego-faculty to bloom and blossom in order that they can have that experience; so I have to go home and do atonement for that ego. This is for your own practice.

I have a letter on my desk. It says ‘Shall I believe my own mind and senses? Or are they misleading me? How can I know?’

Have recourse to the breath. Breath has no karmic background. Body and mind have sin-baggage. Breath has no sin-baggage. Improve your own deservations (from ‘to deserve’). In mundane gravity, only our desirations go up (from ‘to desire’). Breath will never mislead you. But that doesn’t mean that it will always rightly lead you. Breath will not mislead like the body and mind. You don’t have to mistrust the breath. Whatever it is, if it is suitable and right to bring it, then bring it.

Flush out with the exhalation. Do the housekeeping of the hips, pelvis, lower trunk. The associated breath is the housekeeper.

There are assorted conditions according to the person, so standardised processes not work. You need diagnosis and prognosis. We have this idea that yoga is therapy. That it is used as an aid to medicine; then it becomes paramedic. Is this really the application for this noble subject? At the cost of what? Therapeutic yoga at the deprecation of yog.

Empower the student, sooner or later, and sooner rather than later.

Do not just give everyone a standardised medicine, like paracetamol. Give some boost to the student’s awareness; give her ‘alerticity’.

We don’t anaesthetise, we ‘aesthetise’ (anaesthetic from the Greek an = without + aisthesis = feeling, from the root au = to perceive. Here Prashant has removed the negative pro-noun to create aesthesis = to feel, to perceive. Note also the root ‘au’ from the Greek ‘to perceive’ and ‘au’ the root of ‘aum’ in sanskrit, the cosmic vibrations of the divine. Is this coincidence or a cosmic clue??) 

Body, mind, breath are all mingled, unified. In a unified condition there is less chance of cheating.

Don’t call them actions, call them processes. For example, create dorsal processes with ropes in the shoulder blades.

The scheme of the asana is ‘pathi’ (primary centres of congregational worship in South India).

Paryanka = swing

Rotary breathing- the breath will enjoy being on a swing. The breath will be cradled.

Have spontaneous organic processes in place.

Guruji, when I was a child he was doing so much asana, he didn’t really know what yoga is, so he was working working working for perfection in his body and he got so many aches and pains. So he developed a language of ‘press here, press there, roll in, move out’ etc. and would ask us children to do it. He called us children to do the ‘stampeding’. I did it from the age of nine so I developed some proficiency. A few days before he died he had a lot of pain in his kidneys and he asked me to do it then. I thought that my body weight would be too much so Abhijata came and I held her shoulder and she placed her hands and I showed her what to do, pressing, rolling, and he got a big relief.

 Accupressure in yoga = accurate pressure. A person should exhale with pressure.

Consider what is the activator, what is the activated. Who/what is thebenefactor, who/what the beneficiaries.

Yoga is not a physical culture. We associate wisdom with philosophy. You can find a stupid lawyer, a stupid teacher, a stupid doctor. But a stupid philosopher? This is not compatible.

Yoga gives you the field for equanimity. This is authentic. Without that field it is pseudo-equanimity.

Consider all possible manifestations of the relationship between


Doing                 In body, mind, breath


For example, the body can be the doer, the mind the doing, the breath done; or the mind the doer, the breath doing, the body done etc etc. In asana, explore all of these conditions.

We are in the clamour of ‘I am doing’. Classical yoga quietens the clamour. Then you have a philosophy within you.

Not ENJOY but JOY-n (joy to the power n)

What is the definition of yoga in the Bhagavad Gita? We usually look to the definition of karma yoga (yoga of action). But where is the definition of yog? (root of yoga)

The Bhagavad Gita says: ‘When the mind is restrained by the means of yoga’

Being oneself, with oneself, in oneself, one gets joy.

The bliss factor is central to spirituality. There are more than one way to create restraint in the mind and access the bliss factor; for example with psycho-neural technology, with herbs, with drugs. The Bhagavad Gita knew this, and therefore clearly defines the means of restraint as yoga.

Being oneself, in oneself, with oneself leads to joy.

Consider the portal of vijnana kriya (cleansing through knowledge/discernment). In this case we have to ask:

What am I knowing?

Who is knowing?

What/who is known?

Make the known the knower. Make the known the knowing. This is all subjective and integral to you. The pronoun ‘I’ will become knower. The pronoun ‘I’ will become knowing. The pronoun ‘I’ will become known.

The subjective entity has a trichotomy (e.g. knower, knowing, known; doer, doing, done; body, mind, breath).

Epistomology (the theory of knowledge) is instrumental in entities through which knowledge can be raised up (for example body, mind, breath).

The first step is to get confused. In children we call it curiosity; in adults we call it confusion.

Philosophise your conduct in life.

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