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August 9, 2017

Off the leash; a personal reflection on one of Patañjali’s Yoga Sutras

This summer I had the pleasure of taking my kids to The Great Smoky Mountains National Park. As the mother of two city kids, I spend a lot of time thinking about how I can let my children off the leash. Here in New Orleans, they simply don’t get the freedom that I had as a child. So I sent them to sleep away camp in the Blue Ridge Mountains, and then we went camping as a family. The kids were thriving in their independence outdoors. And so was I. In the hustle bustle of daily life, we often forget to disconnect, and let ourselves off the leashes of our phones, computers, jobs, and other entanglements. We get caught up in our habits, both good and bad. Relaxing in a hammock between two trees, reflecting on some of my habits, I started to think about the Yoga Sutras.

The Yoga Sutras by Patañjali is the authoritative Sanskrit text considered to be the foundation of yoga. Each of the Sutras has many different translations, all somewhat open to interpretation. This brings me to Sutra 3.18.

Samskara Saksatkaranat Purva Jatijnanam

· Clear-eyed vision of the mind’s habits brings knowledge of our arising.

· Identification of one’s tendencies and habits will lead one to their origins. Consequently, one gains deep knowledge of one’s past.

In the studio this month, my focus for practice is to identify habits on the mat. Are they healthy? Protective against injury? Or are they preventing me from progressing in my practice? Are they a distraction in my efforts to still the mind? Off the mat, I am looking closely at my relationships, trying to identify patterns that enrich my life and let go of those habits that do not serve me.

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