Discipline versus Dedication

I like to bring in the teachings of classical yoga to my students.  I am by no means a yoga scholar but I feel it’s important to introduce yoga philosophy into asana classes.  This week I spoke about Patanjali’s yoga sutra 2.1.

Tapah svadhyaya ishwara pranidhanani kriya yogah

There are many english translations of this sutra.  I personally have five different translations of the sutras and I often look at all of them in order to get a better understanding of what Patanjali was saying.  The gist of Sutra 2.1 is that there are three parts to kriya yoga or yoga of action – discipline, self study, and dedication to the supreme.

As I pondered these three actions I started to wonder how discipline and dedication were different.  And so I consulted another resource, Webster’s Dictionary.  Discipline has many definitions but the one I liked was the training of mental or moral character.  Dedication also has numerous meanings such as “to set aside for a particular purpose” and “to commit to a goal”.  

The contrast between discipline and dedication seems to be one of the mind and the heart.  Self study becomes the link between the two and the means of staying in balance.  Think about unchecked discipline.  Doing two hours of asana practice certainly requires discipline but can lead to injury.  Dedication without understanding can lead to blind faith or shirking of obligations.  Self study without a purpose can be narcissistic.  

The three parts of kriya yoga fit together and balance each other.  If you study the sutras, you soon realize this is often the case.  Our practice advances through increased understanding of who we are and how we are motivated and inspired.  

Yoga has many paths to self realization.  What a gift.

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