The Wisdom of Yoga

The wisdom of yoga is a book by Stephen Cope that links the ancient text of the Yoga Sutra to everyday modern life.

Its weird but perhaps not surprising that the restlessness, busyness and stress that we often feel today, was felt a few thousand years ago. Like us, it seems people of those times set about working why and what they could do about it. Thus began a lot of searching (and finding). It may appear that a text such as the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali seems to reveal all we need for a peaceful existence. Problem solved… just read it and put it in practice. Of course it is not that simple. It is similar to us knowing that we need to eat well, get enough sleep and exercise… but, how often does this happen?! Life gets in the way. 

But we know its true. There is nothing more important than looking after your health and your well being. It isn’t selfish either, we know we need to look after ourselves in order to look after others.

So what does the book say?  Essentially it is an exploration of life with our restless minds. Is there some inherent quality that makes our mind be this way? And most importantly, who is it that is actually aware of this mind chatter? The suggestion is that perhaps it is only in meditation that we can become fully aware. We can step back from ourselves, our minds, our bodies and be a witness, be an observer. We can see the thoughts as they come and go. We can smile at them. We can shake our heads a them. But what we realise strongly is that they aren’t us. They do not define us. The catch is that this is probably the hardest thing you can do. Humans are very good at applying the mind, achieving, analysing getting things sorted out. But where does that get us? Lots of creation, lots of complexity lots of analysis but quite often with a lot of stress. 
So meditation is not about opting out. Its not especially about sitting in a cave for the rest of your life. Although that often appeals to me! What meditation can give you is insight into this world. And most importantly, who are we really, the witness of the thinking about the world. In this way we can see things as they really are. We can really appreciate them. We can embrace acceptance, peacefulness and mindfulness. 

The yoga sutra would describe this as pure being. We are connected to complete consciousness of everything in its entirety. 

Meditation and yoga practice embraces consciousness as not just limited to our mind but to our body and to all our senses; the goddesses that go out and bring back all that information to us. 
I’m actually only half way through the book. But its familiar. The Yoga sutra says ‘yoga is to still the patterning of mind… then pure awareness can abide in its very nature’. Modern psychology (etc) says: all our conditioning and experiences create the function/ dysfunction of our minds. The plasticity of our brains mean that when we become aware of this we can create new patterns, new neural pathways to our preferred way of living. 
So can meditation bring us a peaceful life and deliver us resilience to cope with the inevitable challenges we face? Only you can answer that question. Only you can find out. Only you can make it happen. I wish you well.

Michael Hara

One Comment

  1. Michaela
    13 hours ago

    I accidentally picked up a copy of Stephen Cope’s “The Wisdom of Yoga” in an Elizabeth’s bookshop many years ago now. I was drawn to the dancing Shiva on the cover. I count this moment fortuitous and lucky as it ignited my interest in the yogic path, connected me with Kripalu, and also gave me a beautiful book containing much wisdom that I have returned to many times over the years. I definitely recommend this book as a good read, even if you are not yet interested in yoga – it weaves the yoga philosophy beautifully and subtly throughout the book.


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