Kusum Yoga Philosophy
Welcome to Kusum Yoga! Wondering what the thoughts are behind how we present our yoga classes? Read on and join us to try it out… it’s all in the experience even more than the thought.
To offer experiences that promote stillness of body, mind and spirit.
The basic idea?
Yes, it’s true that yoga is not just doing poses on a mat but, yes, it’s also true that physical movement is a powerful tool and entry point into experiencing a life of more ease and less struggle. We do not want to underestimate the power of how our lives are enhanced when our bodies relax and physical pain decreases. Aching and exhausted bodies have a way of making it more difficult to experience happiness, don’t they? Plus it can just be fun to take classes… fun and laughter, wherever we can find it, simply add to our lives. In our yoga classes we deeply value the experience of helping people create more stillness and comfort in their bodies. Once that happens… well, maybe you should try it and find out what happens! 🙂 Our minds are curious to understand why we do yoga poses and what the philosophies are and that’s a very good thing. It helps us get our minds on board. But we can’t underestimate the power of creating stillness beginning with our bodies.
So here’s the theory for your mind to enjoy. When we experience moments of happiness, not overexcited giddiness, but that deep and steady contendedness, it is because we are relaxed. When this relaxation and stillness become more a part of our lives, we spontaneously experience shifts on many levels. More stillness breeds more experiences of deep contented happiness. We begin to live life happier!
Why aren’t we happy now?
Our bodies may ache, we may experience illness, we may not like the way our bodies look, we may often feel we have to do more and try harder, we may feel we don’t have enough, we may want our relationships to be different, we may get stuck on past events and we may worry and overplan for the future. Do any of these sound familiar? Many of the activities in our daily life promote stress and this stress manifests in a variety of ways. We can tackle each one of those issues individually (which ultimately leads to just a shifting of that stress from one form to another) or we can go to the root of all our discontent.
What’s the root of our discontent?
The Buddha’s Four Noble Truths point out that all human suffering results from our attachments and aversions. Put another way, we spend our precious energy and efforts trying to change everything to being the way we want it to be. The remedy? Letting go of our hysterical need to control and our fear about what will happen if we don’t go out and work to get what we want. Very simple, yet beyond difficult! Yogic philosophy addresses this problem in a very practical and doable manner. Although there are moments (or days or months or lifetimes!) that it may seem ludicrous, the root idea is that we are happy and content by nature. Always. We always were and always will be. So why is our experience sometimes so different? Vrittis! This is a Sanskrit word that refers to the fluctuations of our minds, otherwise known as thoughts. As humans, we have an inborn reflex of having a thought appear about EVERYTHING. Then the cosmic joke is that we believe what we think. We believe we are what we think. Maya- THE illusion. So, we are calm, abiding, content, permanent awareness covered with a thin layer of everchanging, decorative thoughts. We’re welcome to live in our thoughts. Many of us have spent a lot of our lives doing just that. Many of us never knew we even had an option. There’s nothing wrong with
enjoying our thoughts and living our reality as if everything we think is truth. But, as we all have experienced, it can feel pretty up and down to live that way and it can get very painful. When we’ve had enough, we will look for another way.
Is there another way?
Yes! There are actually many ways. Every culture has evolved their own traditions to address this basic human yearning. As teachers in this studio, we are attempting to share what we have studied, practiced, lived and learned from the traditional teaching of Yoga. We place a great value on relaying what we have learned from our master teachers in as authentic a way as possible.
Is yoga tied to any religion?
Because Yogic practices happened to evolve on this planet in the Hindu culture, it’s not uncommon to see Hindu symbolism tied to some writings. But, no, Yoga is not tied to the practice of any religion. Yoga is simply your own first hand experience of inner quiet and what lies within that quiet for you. A set of scientific, objective, nondogmatic techniques are practiced to increase our likelihood of experiencing more quiet. Things like being kind to ourselves and others, focused breathing, consciously moving our bodies and learning to meditate. That’s it. If you choose personally to connect your inner experience with your religious or spiritual beliefs, that’s your option, but it’s not a necessity. You can find well being and peace either way. However, many people do find the still moments within their practice to be a support to their spiritual life.
What are Yogic teachings based on?
Classical yogic philosophy is very simple and, fortunately, straightforward to apply. It postulates that if our root level discontent revolves around our thoughts, then quieting our minds will relieve our discontent. By dusting the clutter off the top, we will see and feel and experience our true nature that has been there all the time. It’s just a matter of where we place our attention- on our sporadic, reactive, habitual thoughts or on what lies beneath the thoughts. And the only way to see below the thoughts is to do practices that help us slow them down. Once we experience the unchanging contentedness that is our nature, we begin to fall in love with it. And our psyches, our bodies and, the miracle of miracles!, even our minds want to be there more. Ultimately, we reach a state called samadhi or enlightenment in which we no longer even desire the sensation of happiness- we just become it. Fortunately, in the Yoga Sutras, the sage Patanjali has given us a set of very basic and straightforward tools to help us quiet our minds. They are things that everyone can practice and have very little to do with how flexible we are or how great we look in yoga poses.
Why are the Kusum Yoga Studios here?
This is what we teach because this is what we have lived. These tools have changed our lives firsthand and we have a deep desire to share what we’ve experienced. We are forever grateful to those who have shown us the way and we would like to pass it on. If you’ve had enough and sense there must be another way, feel free to join us- you are always welcome.
Lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu. May all beings everywhere be healthy, happy and free and may my thoughts, words and actions contribute in some way to happiness and freedom for all.