‘Vairagya is the elimination of whatever hinders progress and refinement.’ B.K.S. Iyengar
Yoga is so much more than just physical practice. (For a quick recap see the ‘What is Yoga?’ blog at https://restoringbodies.com/what-is-yoga/ ) Yoga is made up of 8 separate limbs (again, which were written about in previous blogs.) The defining description of yoga and all that it can be was written by Patanjali over 2000 years ago. He grouped his writing into the Yoga Sutras. As this was written in Sanskrit, yoga scholars through the years have had their own translations of the Sutras. This blog is about a part of Sutra 1.12. B.K.S. Iyengar translates Sutra 1.12 as “Practice and detachment are the means to still the movements of consciousness.”
Vairagya is defined as detachment or renunciation. This is the work of the inward limbs of Yoga. I love this statement from B.K.S. Iyengar from his book Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali – “Vairagya is a practice through which the sadhaka (student) learns to be free from desires and passions and to cultivate non-attachment to things which hinder his pursuit of union with the soul.” Sounds a bit like the Jedi learning to use the force. But seriously, Vairagya does not mean that a student doesn’t care about things, just that he is not overwrought when they don’t work out.
In our society where we are always looking for the next big thing, trying to get ahead of our neighbors, comparing ourselves to the people on Facebook and Instagram, not being overly concerned with results is hard. It goes against everything that we see on social media. I’ll give you an example. I have never been able to do a yoga headstand away from the wall. I have been practicing yoga for almost 15 years. Occasionally I can do one, but not consistently. Have I gotten aggravated at myself? Yep! But I am trying to have compassion for myself. I am still a yogi even if I never do a headstand away from the wall. Every time I try, I learn something. So even if I have a bad day, I don’t let it get me down, I just acknowledge it and promise to try again. Maybe your goal is to sit crossed legged on the floor with no pain. Just keep trying. Remember, you may never completely accomplish this goal, but you are still a successful yogi. Vairagya