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Yoga Sutra Contemplation

The Yoga Sutras, widely regarded as the authoritative text on yoga, is a collection of aphorisms outlining the eight limbs of yoga. These “threads” (as sutra translates from Sanskrit) of wisdom offer guidelines for living a meaningful and purposeful life.

One sutra I regularly contemplate is Yoga Sutra II.16 (heyam duhkham anagatam), Patanjali says that if you can accept that no one is immune from suffering and you understand the causes of suffering, then you can be prepared for the suffering that is yet to come and avoid unnecessary suffering.“The word duhkham, most commonly translated as “suffering,” one translation says it is “tightness or constriction in the chest or the heart area.” If you think about a time you were upset and what that felt like in your body, you’ll probably recognize the feeling.

In the Yoga Sutra, Patanjali uses duhkham to encompass all the disturbances in our equilibrium, from feelings of disquiet or unhappiness to all-out heartbreak. When you’re upset, angry, anxious, sad, unhappy, or devastated, that’s duhkham.” Yoga Journal said this and I resonate so well as during the last 18 months I have experienced a lot of worry and my chest has felt like it’s caving in. Having multiple investigations we found that my heart is very healthy and well and my pain is from anxiety and worry and literally heartache.

Even though I know in my head that anxiety can cause this type of symptom. I couldnt believe that this intense feeling could be related to my worry and stress. I was convinced I had heart disease.

As we learn from patanjali is that we can’t necessarily prevent certain suffering but we can change our perception or response and we can move our bodies and use the tools of yoga like breath work and meditation that may help relieve some symptoms and perhaps work to prevent future ailments. Don’t get me wrong I had to get some intervention to start to ease the symptoms but also I have had a check in with what I am actively doing to help myself, what practices am I engaging with that will start to ease my issues and prevent my future suffering. How can I improve matters for myself.

On the most basic level, I believe that our physical body serves as the entry point for delving into more subtle work. My go-to approach is, at the very least, to alleviate physical aches, pains, and tensions. This fundamental level of engagement allows me to actively address and improve my well-being. From this starting point, I can focus on breathing in a way that fosters freedom, space, and ease. As my body and breath align, an energetic shift often occurs, paving the way for moments of stillness. Can this progression lead to the prevention of potential suffering? I like to think yes! 

In my daily routine, I incorporate movement practices to release tension and stretch areas prone to tightness, such as chest and shoulders. These "movement snacks" serve as preventive measures for future issues. Balancing a busy schedule, I've discovered ways to infuse yoga into everyday moments, like this shoulder joint lubricating and heart opening movement I do while walking Ciro, I am using his lead but you could use a belt or a pair of tights!

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