In grade school, I remember asking my math teacher why we had to learn how to do some type of computation. I don’t recall what it was but I do remember his answer, “so you can put it in your pocket and bring it home with you”. Which didn’t seem like a good reason to me.
The thing is, I really wanted to know. I wasn’t being belligerent. I liked math and did well. If he had told me I could calculate surface area, or mileage, or the distance around the earth, that would have inspired me. I still like math and consider myself “good” at it. But I never studied it beyond what was required in school.
Recently, I was talking with a friend about motivation. Or more specifically, how do we inspire people to improve their physical and mental health. It seems like a worthwhile pursuit and yet often people don’t do it (for lots of reasons both real and imagined). She mentioned a TED talk called The Golden Circle. In it, the speaker explains his theory of “what, how, and why” and that if we turn it around we’ll have more success convincing people of whatever it is we want to convince them.
It seems to me, the first three yoga sutras answer these questions. Patanjali’s first sutra tells us “now begins the practice of yoga”. The second says that yoga is “the steadying of the fluctuations of the mind”. And the third sutra states that by doing so you can “dwell in your true nature” (Iyengar translates this as true splendor). I’ve often thought of these three sutras as the what, how and why of yoga. If they were presented in reverse, would they be more compelling?
- You can dwell in your true splendor
- by learning to steady your distracted mind
- through the practices of yoga
Are you convinced? I am!