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For the Benefit of All

      With the Westernization and the commercialization (was I just being redundant?) of yoga a lot can get diluted - or left out entirely.  For many people  yoga is synonymous with exercise. Yoga is seen as getting a cardio-workout by "flowing" through a series of poses in rapid succession or it means working up a sweat in an over heated room.  The holding of postures is usually for some measurable outcome of wanting a "yoga butt" or increased strength, or flexibility.  With this view of yoga people can be discouraged from taking classes feeling that they are not flexible enough or are not of the right  body type. Certainly there are physical health benefits from the practice of postures, but that is not the primary goal of yoga practices.

     Other people have the concept of yoga as being the way to relax.  The image of this has usually been in the form of a yogi in complete isolation sitting crosslegged on a mountain top saying, "Om." This image of the renunciate is not compatible with the Western lifestyle. People can get frustrated with meditation when they sit and the mind (and the body) will not be still. To will the mind to be quiet is not a good approach to meditation. Meditation is more than just relaxation. In fact relaxation of the body should be done before meditation.  Meditation is the deep cleansing of negative thought patterns. 

     The primary objective of yoga is the removal of suffering. Over millennia Raja, or Classical yoga, based on the writings, The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali,  present a systematic methodology of practices to assist the mind to expand awareness. It is in the expanded awareness into unity consciousness that the mind can be freed from suffering.     

     Unity consciousness dispels the notion of humans having mastery over others, and Nature herself. Unity consciousness brings awareness to the interdependence of all of existence. Yoga is the union of individual consciousness into the unified conscience.  With expanded consciousness the mind does not perceive separation. With this awareness when we practice yoga we are not doing it for just ourselves but for all sentient beings and the earth. We do the yoga practices to reach unity consciousness on the mat in order that our deeds off of the mat brings benefit to all. 


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