Thursday, April 18, 2013

Stop Wasting Your Flavor, and other lessons from a Yogi Master

Today I mentioned to a coworker that I was reading a book by a Yogi Master and she asked me, "so, what do you have to 'do' to qualify as a yogi master anway?". For someone with as much respect for the science of yoga as me, there is not an option to answer this question succinctly. Becoming a true YOGA master (and not yoga "asana" or postures, but like an ENLIGHTENED BEING) is such a rare, complex, deep and expansive accomplishment that there have been very few examples of it occurring. It takes limitless devotion, unflappable willpower, and the tenacity of a BAD ASS! So when she asked, rather than give her a 12 hour lecture (that would only be part 1 of hundreds) I decided to read the master's own words to just give her an example.

The aforementioned "master is K. Pattabhi Jois who developed the ashtanga yoga method and author of many, many texts including "Yoga Mala", the book I am reading. I'm going to break this down as much as I possibly can, though I could talk ad nauseum about this book.

In one section, Jois discusses the concept of "brahmacharya" or abstinence (which is one of the Yamas/ethical rules in Yoga) in the context of a "househelder's life". Quick note: the ancient Yogic texts were written primarily for monks/hermits who chose to follow a monastic, abstinent, yogic path and give up their family lives. Jois understands that abstinence will not be an option in 1962 for readers of his book who may have a wife or kids and aren't inclined towards a life of solitude and study. How can a householder or non-yogi apply this cardinal rule to their modern lives?

Brahmacharya in the bluntest sense of the term is "wasting of vital fluid" hence um, not having sex...get it? It doesn't mean just that though, of course. Here's how Jois says one of us normal folks can achieve "some degree" of brahmacharya:

"He must avoid the following as much as possible: mixing with vulgar people; going to crowded areas for recreation; reading vulgar books which disturb the mind; going to theaters and restaurants; and conversing secretly with strangers of the opposite sex. If these are avoided, brahmacharya can be preserved in part."

Whoa. I love that. To me, it can be described with the term "Wasting your Flavor." Many of us, (and by many of us I mean all of us) exist in a society that is designed to drain us. Our energy, our wallets, our time, our natural resources. Do you ever say "Ug, I feel so drained". That subway ride was so crowded and slow I was drained by the time I got to work. My clients are draining me. My children are draining me. Ug, I'm always so drained by Friday.

Yes, it happens to us. We all get DRAINED. We waste our flavor and deplete our vital force. We engage in more conversations than we need to. Sleep less than we should. Fill our minds and bodies with garbage (and as Mama Smear always said "garbage in, garbage out"). I used to be one of those people who ALWAYS had to go out and party and yes, then I too was wasting my flavor. Some flavor wasting is inevitable...if I didn't waste my flavor on my clients, I'd be gunned down in front of a Step & Repeat with a typo on it for my lack of attention to detail. Husband and wife are allowed, in Jois opinion to waste some flavor on one another. Isn't that generous of him??

As householders we can't truly practice brahmacharya, but if you marinate on the words of Pattahbi Jois and contemplate the types of things he suggests you abstain from, you can feel in your heart what he's talking about right? Like, be conservative with yourself. Don't waste your most precious gift on things that deplete rather than fulfill you. Marinate on THAT.

And namaste.