Each Willow Street session, I choose an overall philosophy topic or book to inform the themes for my classes. I choose them based on something that I believe is relevant to what is going on in the world, something that has captured my interest, or something that I believe supports the growth of the groups of students attending my various classes.
When exploring particular readings for this purpose, I do more than read. Rather, I contemplate, journal, practice asana (in a sense choreographing the philosophy using the principles of alignment), and meditate with the reading in mind. Paul Muller-Ortega calls studying by going beyond book knowledge and continuously contemplating, refining, and exploring its living meaning for us is vikalpa-samskara — the practice of study. (Siva Sutra Pravesana, An Introduction for Practitioners of Yoga).
This session, the central text I am reading is Swami Chidvilasandana’s The Yoga of Discipline. The book contains a series of lectures discussing how being steady and constant in our yoga practice (including bringing yoga principles to our daily lives) will help us become more gracious, happy, and able to serve society. The lectures draw on teachings from the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali and from the Bhagavad Gita (suggested translations in another blog entry to come). I am freely drawing on those as well, even those sections not discussed in The Yoga of Discipline.
I picked this text at this time because I am feeling such a deep need and such gratitude for my yoga practice, study, and community in this time of uncertainty. It has been my own personal experience that longer I have had a steady practice, the better able I am to come from a place of light in times of flux, pain, or complexity.