Podcast #45 - Progressing Towards Kindness

samniyama-indriya-gramam / sarvatra sama-buddhayah
te prapnuvanti mam eva / sarva-bhuta-hite ratah

Those who are able to control their senses, have equanimity of mind and rejoice in contributing to the welfare of all creatures are dear to me.

Bhagavad Gita XII.4

The practice of yoga asks us to examine the prejudices and preferences
of the mind, and the way that those prejudices play out in our
relationships with others, including animals. As we "progress towards
kindness," we are able to see others as the same, as KIN, which is the
root of the word kindness.

Each of the practices of yoga are meant to bring about equanimity of mind "sama buddhaya" from the verse. Sama, being of the same - buddhaya, the intellect or the mind. Being of the same mind towards all beings, which gives rise to the next line of the verse "rejoicing in contributing to the welfare of all beings."

In yoga practice, we start with the breath. Ujjai ("victorious") breath is a practice of making two things that seem opposite the same. We take the inhales, and the exhales and make them sound and feel the same. We make them the same length (sama-vritti), and the same volume of air.  Then we take that equalized breath with us throughout the duration of the practice, whether we are in headstand, or wheel, or forward bend, or warrior. The equalized breath keeps the mind even (sama buddhayah) whether we are in a pose that we like, or don't like; whether we are in a difficult pose, or an easy pose, etc. In this way, the breath moves us through all of the experiences of the class with an equal mind, with equanimity. Such that whatever predicament we might find ourselves in in our lives, we can approach all situations with equanimity and poise.

Further, as we become the snake, the frog, the dog, the locust, we also see the world from the viewpoint of many different beings. Again, no matter whether we are a bug, a mammal, a reptile, etc..... the breath stays the same. Therefore we are also able to cultivate the feeling of equanimity towards all beings, without exception. When we are able to recognize that our breath is the same breath, the beat of our heart the same heartbeat, our joys and sorrows and struggles and hopes, the same as all other beings. Then we would not love a dog and wear a fox. Nor would we save a dolphin but eat a tuna.

The physical practice itself is a hip focused class, with lots of fun
arm balances.