At Saturday’s teacher training session, we spent lunch and a little class time on one-on-ones, so J & N could meet with each trainee individually to see how we’re doing. The one-on-ones lasted longer than planned, so some of us had to wait and do ours during the week. (I had mine last night, Tuesday, after class, and got to enjoy a really good conversation with N that helped me clarify that, yes, I’m on the right track; yes, I’m doing the best I can right now and once things calm down in my life my practice is going to take off; and yes, I should talk more in class; and yes, my papers are really good, but you all knew that part already because you’re basically reading my papers all month long. N also says she needs to see me teach more, which I totally understand, and that I am to thwack her in the head and remind her next time I’m in one of her classes so that I can teach a pose. I told her about my practice class at the pond and she was really glad to hear that I’d done that. Again, I’ll be trying to bank some teaching practice at home once we’re more settled in to our new house. Can’t fit more than one yogi on the porch right now since there’s still a queen-sized box spring sitting on it. Which reminds me, does anyone need a queen-sized box spring?)
Our actual class lecture on Saturday was Intro to the Bhagavad Gita. We talked about the four paths of yoga:
- Karma Yoga: the path of action
- Raja Yoga: the path of meditation
- Jnana Yoga: the path of wisdom/knowledge
- Bhakti Yoga: the path of love/devotion
We also discussed the three gunas. Guna means “strand or quality”; the gunas are three moods or influences or qualities that affect pretty much everything that happens:
- Sattva: peacefulness, calm, contentment
- Rajas: activity, sensuality; full of desires, attachments, and enjoyments
- Tamas: confusion, laziness, lethargy, ignorance
The four paths and the three gunas are discussed in depth in the Bhagavad Gita, which is our reading assignment for this month. You can probably all predict that you’ll be hearing a lot more about these things later this month. We also talked about karma and about the four duties of a yogi, which I’ll describe further in a later post too.
My homework for this month is to read the Bhagavad Gita and write a reflection paper on which yogic path seems to suit my personality the best, including why I think that, what about that path resonates for me, and what evidence in my life leads me to this conclusion. We’re also doing two posture write-ups this month on twists (any ol’ twist: seated, standing, or reclining). It seems like a light homework month, but I think the intention is really for us to focus on the Gita and the four paths and to think carefully about it.
I already owned a copy of the Bhagavad Gita: Stephen Mitchell’s translation. The rest of the class is reading Eknath Easwaran’s translation. At first I figured, I already have the book, I don’t need to buy another copy, but now I’m reconsidering. First, I absolutely loved Easwaran’s Passage Meditation, so I would be very interested to see his take on the Gita. Also, given that we’re being provided the time to do some real hard work on this, I think it might benefit me to read the thing twice. I’ve already started on the Mitchell translation (just finished chapter 3, I think), and I’m a fast reader, so I’ve got plenty of time. It seems like, of all the books on yoga and spirituality out there, the Bhagavad Gita is one that it might be nice to own two translations of.