The third and fourth chapters of Yoga from the Inside Out present the idea of kaya sadhana or the cultivation of the body as a means of transformation. Many schools of thought view the body as something that needs to be overcome as a means for the individual to transcend. I never quite understood this. Why would we exist in a body that serves only as a hindrance to our fulfillment of our spiritual apex? Granted I don’t claim to understand the mysteries of the universe so maybe God has some reasoning for that. However I choose to believe in the body as a means to transformation and now I have a Sanskrit phrase for it! In order to bring the body to the place where it can transform the individual needs to pacify the war within and really cultivate unity between mind and body as well as between the internal self and external self. Christina says alignment on many levels is the key to union between the mind and the body. It seems like the correctly guided internal struggle should be between an individual’s motivation and their behavior. When Christina discusses this I could not help but think of two things. The first is Matthew Sanford in Waking. His struggle was with reconnecting his mind with his body and finding union and peace between the two. It took him a great deal of time, effort, and fighting with both his mind and body to eventually realize union. The second thing I think of is the enneagram which is, in simple terms, a piece of ancient wisdom that classifies people into a group identified by a number 1 through 9 that identifies not their personality or behavior but rather their motivations behind both personality and behavior. People who use the enneagram assert that the individual needs to practice self-observation in order to figure out areas within their lives that seem out of alignment and need fixed. This seems to go along perfectly with what Christina writes about. Unbiased self-observation helps the individual realign just as a teacher might realign a yoga student in a pose.
“When we are even slightly out of alignment with our chosen path there is unnecessary suffering”
The quote above comes from the end of chapter four and I’m choosing to write about it because it impacted me. If read incorrectly as I did at first, the statement seems to say that we are on some predestined path with a sort of Calvinistic undertone. As I thought more about it I realized that we are all on a path towards a specific goal and that goal is the loss of self with union in the divine. All people have a unique and specific path but when we begin to move off of our chosen path we move further away from our true self and this can cause suffering. As we take steps away from discovering our true nature, from the light, we inevitably move into darkness and set ourselves up for pain that could have been otherwise avoided. The practice of yoga then comes in handy because it seems to keep our pursuit of the light and our meandering towards the darkness in a sort of balance and I’m starting to realize that most everything in life is about balance.