Jnana yoga practice|yogi surprise

Why The Practice of Jnana Yoga Is a Necessity for A Happy Life

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:

  1. Be impeccable with your word.
  2. Take nothing personally.
  3. Assume nothing.
  4. 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.


commitment and priorities|yogi surprise

How Committed Are We to Our Priorities?

Have you ever taken vows?

I'm not talking marriage or religious vows, but internal promises of commitments you've made to yourself.

And these commitments are the ones that really matter to us. We hold them, dear, like loved ones. They are the lining of our souls and the crux of our character.

Things happen, drama, strife, rock-bottom occurrences that propel us right back to where we need to be. Committed to our priorities, seeing them more clearly than we do our faces in the mirror.
And sometimes these enlightenments come from moments on our yoga mats or interesting conversations with wise individuals who know things we don't. They've lived lives we can't even conceptualize. This sends us right back to our foundation. Commitment reminds us of who we were put on this earth to be.

So once we land there, what do we do? What happens when we renew our commitment to our biggest priorities?

First. we acknowledge them. We call them by name and place them in order.
Next, we identify how to put them first. Maybe it's meditation, doing good deeds, spending time correcting behaviors that hurt us, and nurturing our most important relationships.
When we step right up to the firing line of truth and don't back peddle or shy away from it, we can embrace it with wide-open and excited arms.
We make an action plan. Sleep more. work less. Love harder. be brutally honest. We get fierce. Beyonce-level fierce. And we feel our commitments rise to the top of our being. Our priorities present themselves as crystal-clear images that become engraved on our brains.

We set out on new paths, deleting the garbage that has become strewn all around us and we start the clean-up process.

We practice yoga daily. We cook nourishing meals. We put away our cell phones when we are with others. We choose to avoid distractions and ruminations. We dedicate to positive self-talk and sharing hopeful messages and supportive words with others. I've said it many times, no action is too small. There is always space for growth. Committing to that is everything.
Commitment is the only way we can find our way. It's the only thing that brings us all the good and meaningful that comprises our lives. Think about all you are and everything you have. Where and how does commitment show up? Once we start to evaluate it, we see it's the veil and it's also the thread.
All the rancor creating battlefields within our minds and hearts dissipates as we hone in on what's really important.
You matter. We all matter. And what we do has positive and negative consequences.
Determined commitment staves off suffering. It leads us in the direction we are absolutely supposed to go.
Commitment is everything. When we are non-committal, we've acknowledged that we simply don't prioritize that thing, concept, person, and activity. But when we go all in, miraculous things occur and that commitment pays off over and over.
This is freedom. This is living our best lives. Commitment to our priorities and not wavering or second-guessing what really is important.
Make your lists. Look at this list every day. Many times a day until it's indelible and it feeds us even more than food and water.
We must rebel against the thoughts that lead to habits that don't make us whole. We have to hold on to our commitments to our priorities that let us be good, even great. Washing away regret and moving forward is the only way to go.
Go boldly after what you really want. This is our dharma. This is our liberation. Go forward and be fantastic.