Self-awareness with self-acceptance is the cornerstone of LifeForce Yoga, and any yoga practice. When we bring these together, we get sustainable and long-lasting change. Self-awareness by itself ends up being painful and thus difficult to maintain. When we suffer because of self-awareness, we fall back into familiar patterns of self-sabotage or self-destruction. Self-acceptance by itself is beautiful and there is no growth without awareness of our patterns. Bring them together and we get the change and growth we seek.
This teaching is the first line of the second chapter, or book, of the Yoga Sutras of Patanajli.
2:1 Tapas svadhyaya isvarapranidana kriya yoga– Patanjali
A simple translation is self-awareness with self-acceptance and compassion is yoga in action. A longer translation is commitment to doing something different, staying present, and compassion brings about the change we need to realize our wholeness. If we invite these three aspects into our practice, any yoga can do this for us. LifeForce Yoga Practitioners are trained to facilitate commitment, self-awareness, and compassion in their offerings and for themselves.
Exploring Yoga Sutra 2:1
Let’s explore the ways you might experience this within a LifeForce Yoga session, class, workshop, or training.
Tapas – Commitment
Translated as “burning,” many teachers take this to mean the heat that is created with the practice of physical postures. This translation removes the context of the text, which is something Westerners tend to do with Sanskrit. Instead, let us understand this as a “burning desire to change what is no longer serving us” and making a commitment to that desire. In a LifeForce Yoga session, this is the sankalpa, the intention. It is the “why” of our current practice.
Svadhyaya – Self-Awareness
The essence of svadhyaya is “to know yourself.” It is translated as self-study or study of scripture. Svadhyaya means to stay present to what is arising without numbing out or avoiding our current experience. Easier said than done! This is the practice of anchoring our awareness in posture, or feelings. In a LifeForce Yoga session, these are the pauses after a practice when we are directed to place the attention on physical, breath, energetic, and/or emotional sensations. How will we know we feel peaceful because of a practice if we do not take the time to feel the peace?
Isvarapranidana – Self-Acceptance
Self-acceptance is compassion. Often defined as “surrender,” it means to bring forth the gifts of the eternal cosmic vibration and is an understanding that we are vehicles for this vibration (replace eternal cosmic vibration with whatever word works for you). This is the compassionate welcoming that weaves itself through the entire practice. It is those moments where we are invited to welcome the experience without trying to fix or change anything. This is the presence of the LifeForce Yoga Practitioner who honors and accepts us as we are, who sees us as a whole and complete being. It is the love in the room.
These three aspects, summed up as self-awareness with self-acceptance are how we create and realize the best version of ourselves.
Here is a recording of the LifeForce Yoga Centering from Awakening Your Inner Radiance with LifeForce Yoga. We use this at the beginning of all our workshops and trainings. Our practitioners are trained in delivering this centering and use some form of this in their private sessions. The script for this centering is found on page 19.