Have you ever heard of Jnana Yoga?
Me either. Or at least I hadn’t until recently. A student asked about how to best practice Jnana yoga, and I had to admit I didn’t know what it was. Once I did a little research, I got excited about exploring this practice. The yoga world is vast, and just when you think you’ve tapped into every piece of yoga philosophy there is, a whole different zip code shows up on the map.
Jnana translates to ‘wisdom’ or ‘knowledge’. It’s one of the four main paths of yoga and highly regarded as the most challenging to practice. Why is self-inquiry so tough? Why are we afraid of the truth and the pursuit of liberation from our untrue thoughts?
Jnana yoga throws down the gauntlet of Svadhyaya
To get on the other side of our egos, we have to be willing to invest fully in Svadhyaya, or “self-study”. While it’s true that most people like to talk about themselves, it is decidedly untrue that we like to explore our inner workings and implore honesty to rise to the surface and show us who we really are.
How can we embark on this daunting path? Questions. Lots and lots of questions. And meditating about our goals, passions, and reasons we are on this earth is no small thing. But without first taking the time to ask the questions, the hard ones, we can’t arrive at the answers. We keep bumping up against that stubborn ego who wants to convince us that what we wish to believe is real.
How to start practicing Jnana yoga
First, take the time to journal about what your truths are. Dig in deep and ask the difficult questions. If you need a guide, you can start here:
- Where does my ego hold me back?
- What am I most afraid of?
- What belief do I know isn’t true, yet I hold onto for dear life?
- Who could I become without that thought guiding me?
- What is missing from my life?
- Do I know my purpose?
- Do I diligently speak with integrity? If not, why?
It’s not that we want to lie to ourselves. It’s a measured, calculated strategy of self-protection. But when we try to shield ourselves from what’s really true, we wind up with an overactive ego that gets us in trouble.
Truth breeds humility. Humility is inspiring
Once we are willing to get really honest, we set ourselves free. Seeing the truth as only good news allows us to explore each crevice of our psyche and see ourselves with clear eyes. This will change our decisions, hopes, dreams, and earmark every action with clarity.
Practice yoga with candor and sincerity. If you have a shoulder injury, stay away from handstands and other arm balances. If your back hurts, either minimize the depth of your backbends or skip them altogether.
And if you’ve never read The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz, read it as soon as possible. The simple concepts in this text highlight such excellent strategies for getting to the heart of Svadhyaya and the practice of Jnana yoga. They are as follows:
- Be impeccable with your word.
- Take nothing personally.
- Assume nothing.
- Always do your best.
Are you excited to practice today? Me too, very much so. We’ll do the practice of Jnana yoga collaboratively. We’re in this together.