There’s More than One Road to Travel

The Patanjali mural at Samyama Yoga Center in Palo Alto

The Patanjali mural at Samyama Yoga Center in Palo Alto

I sat in sukhasana for the first time in Mrs. Carey’s gym class. It was 1975 and I was a junior at Northwestern Lehigh High School. I didn’t know it was sukhasana. For that matter, neither did Mrs. Carey. Most of my classmates sat slumped, legs crossed. But I was in sukhasana. I didn’t know it. I could feel it.

It was ten years before I sat in sukhasana again.

It’s wrong to call the path I’ve walked for most of the past three decades a ‘yoga journey‘. If I’m to be truthful, it has been an ‘asana journey‘. Asana. Asana. Asana. For years I collected asanas like some people collect stamps. And why not? It was fun. I was young. And no one taught me any different. They may have tried, but I wasn’t listening.

I knew I was taking the ‘scenic route’. I knew there was more to yoga than asana. I craved something more – I was hungry for it – but I didn’t know where to begin.

I had the texts to prove it: the Gita and Upanishads, Patanjali and the Pradipika. I had books from teachers who brought yoga to the West. For a time I carried Iyengar‘s Light on Yoga with me as if it was the Holy Grail. I was a yoga poser. I was proving that what my teachers back at Northwestern said about me (“she’s a bright girl but she doesn’t apply herself”) was true.

Maybe I wasn’t ready. Maybe it’s true that the universe conspires to open your heart only when you’re ready to receive. I’m ready. Patanjali, my heart is open. Teach me.

Chapter 1

Samadhi Pada

1.1 Here begins the authoritative instruction on Yoga.

1.2 Yoga is the ability to direct the mind exclusively toward an object and sustain that direction without any distractions.

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