The quest for prana (see yesterday’s post) has taken some of you to Mysore India recently. If you have been practicing in the K.P.Jois Ashtanga Yoga Institute in Mysore, you have witnessed the prana in so many bright yogis. Like any deeply inspirational connection with sangha (community), practicing in Mysore has a special way of engaging one’s prana.
For many of us, the most challenging part of making a trip to India is the transition turning back home. How do we turn the inspiration of that experience into momentum in our practice? How do we draw out the lessons from that experience and apply that knowledge in our lives?
One way is by cultivating tejas. Tejas is the second of the three ‘vital essences’ (prana, tejas and ojas) which are at the root of the doshas. Tejas is inner brilliance or spiritual energy of fire (the subtle aspect of pitta dosha). It illumines us and allows us to digest our life experience.
Yoga cultivates our physical, mental and spiritual fire to burn impurities on all three levels. Tejas is the radiance of concentrated effort, the glow that happens when life’s lessons are learned. It is the harnessing of the mind’s energy to hear the alarm in the morning, to recognize that the mind is dreaming and it is time to awaken. It is the will-power to concentrate one’s efforts in life-supporting activities, particularly with speech.
Students who go to practice in Mysore often leave with one question on their mind: “How am I going to get to Mysore for another trip?” The secret is really simple: it’s your practice that is gonna get you back to Mysore! It’s the daily work that keeps the knowledge of yoga alive in us, that puts the lessons to the test, that builds wisdom. It’s our practice that is going to inform us best of when and how and if it will be time to get back to Mysore some day.
A lit candle during yoga practice gives us a small flame that represents the light and heat of tejas. The asana practice then becomes like an ancient fire ceremony when we can offer all our difficulties and troubles in the fire.
Om saha naavavavtu May we be protected together
saha nau bhunaktu May we be nourished together
saha viiryam karavaavahai May we work together with great energy
tejasvinaavadhiitamastu May our study be brilliant and effective
maa vid vishaavahai May we not resist or hate each other
Om shanti shanti shanti Om peace peace peace