During one of the sessions at the workshop last weekend in New Jersey, John Friend made a passing reference to the difference between receiving and taking. He did not go into any detail because it was not central to the theme of the class, but it led me to contemplate on my own about the difference between taking and giving in the context of yoga practice. In so doing, I thought about the concept of prasad — which is food that has been blessed and is offered to those who have participated in worship (puja).
When offered prasad, one does not take it. Instead, the cupped palm is turned up to receive the prasad. The recipient does not get to pick through the basket and choose which sweet looks the biggest or the tastiest, but simply receives with gratitude the sweet or fruit that is infused with the intention of spirit. The active part is the showing up with openness and receptivity to the offering, the blessing, the nourishment being offered.
Coming to yoga class or doing our own practice (asana or meditation) should be, I think, like preparing to receive prasad. What is primary in the practice of Anusara yoga is being open to grace, but we can no more force openings or enlightenment (grace and insight always elude grasping), than forcing any particular physical posture or goal really yoga practice. The point of effort in yoga to improve and expand alignment and knowledge is to enable the practitioner to receive more fully all the potential gifts and grace of practice, and then in turn make fuller and more complete offerings to others.
Below: offerings at the Chelsea Farmers’ Market