yogipadmasana“You must not seek, you must search. You must not see, you must look at. You must not hear, you must listen. You must not touch, you must palpate. You must not smell, you must sniff.”

We begin 2016 with some mysterious advice from BKS Iyengar about spiritual practice and setting goals of which there are many options and theories to choose from.

We can start off in our practice with specific goals and distinct ideas about what we want to achieve like mastering a specific pose or working on a certain aspect of our body we want to change. This goal-oriented approach has both merits and limits. It is colored by a certain amount of individuality, and if one becomes too attached to the idea of what one wants to attain, then the results are limited to the attainment of that goal.

Iyengar’s words suggest a different approach, a path of inquiry and surrender, a desire “not to learn a particular thing but to explore what a particular thing has to teach – not to transform, but to be transformed, not by striving, but by absorbing.”

The ancient teachings of yoga, when practiced consistently with commitment have the power to transform our lives in and of themselves. When an approach to the practice of yoga is one of surrender, of immersing oneself in the yoga teachings without having to alter them to suit one’s preference, then something truly interesting can be learned. It gives us a way of practicing that both deepens our awareness and our understanding.