Gary Kraftsow sums up the wisdom of Patanjali on Self Transformation: "It's Your Journey"
Gary Kraftsow is known by Yoga Journal attendees as being equally adept at quoting and translating the Sutras and other yogic texts, and then proceeding to break down their meaning in terms that are both modern and compelling. His packed class on "The Art of Personal Practice and Self Transformation" according to Sage Patanjali, was no exception.
Through the first part Gary took us through the three key elements of Kriya Yoga: Tapas--the heat which yogis generate to bring about transformation, Svadhyaya--self reflection, and Isvara Pranidhana--which I took to mean the underlying support of one's faith or beliefs. While his explanation seemed at times scholarly and abstract to me as one who struggles with yogic texts, his message was tangible and direct.
"Find out who you are and God will show up" is Gary's translation of Kriya yoga's basic message, which means pursuing elements of practice that embody meaning to each of us. It's an individual search, he emphasized, in which rote and blind dedication have no role. Asana ought not be mechanical, but pursured to find out what each and every posture has to offer. Even chanting, which Gary features in his classes, are best done individually using mantras that have personal meaning and go deep to our own heart. And of course there is meditation, which often plays a perfunctory role in the way yoga is practiced here in the U.S.
One element of Gary's message was very similar to something we've heard a lot from Mr Iyengar this week: "Hurry Up". Mr. Iyengar said that continually to us as he sensed we moved too slowly in class. Gary has a different perspective, as someone who this past year endured a life-threatening brain tumor. Answering the question "Who Am I?" is a prerequisite to transformation, and we really have no idea how long we will be given to answer it.
I look forward to reading Gary's book on this subject: "Yoga for Transformation"