Ara Wiseman

Forgiveness In Yoga Practice

When we approach the idea of forgiveness in the context of yoga and meditation, a good place to start would be Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. These sutras were written in a precise fashion as pearls of wisdom strung together by an invisible thread of realized Truth.
Meditation seems to be the most efficient way of accessing such depths of vision regarding this vast panorama of human experience. From birth to death, there are ample opportunities to live fully in the present and thus realize the Self in ourselves and others. This realization is the stepping stone to actually master our mundane world, transform it into a magical life. Sounds far out? Here are some practical approaches.

Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra 2:33: “When obstructive thoughts arise, practice the opposite thought.” What an unlikely proposition! Somebody hurts your feelings and you are supposed to think of their feelings and well being.
This can really bring us to a different level of understanding.
Ordinarily we pretty much react, retaliate, and have an attachment to the opinions of others. We define ourselves by what others say or imply.
Instead we could simply detach ourselves from this superficial existence, and delve into a much more centered, non-judgemental, non-competitive way of living and interacting with others. Then, as judgement, competition, and comparison drop, so does our ego and the need to defend it. Egolessness. Now that is true forgiveness!

When in the yoga room, we must truly stop comparing, competing and judging ourselves and others. That is the way to complete forgiveness. Coming to terms with our true abilities and embracing this opportunity to be present and to live a marvellous life. If the neighbour beside us is tipping over, dancing around in trying to hold a balancing pose, or the other neighbour visibly and audibly is having a rough time with yoga, send an inner or even an outer smile to them, let them know, we care and support their effort. There might be a super agile yoga princess right in front of you, performing each pose with an impeccable precision and grace. You can just observe and admire, sending a smile, letting her know she is noticed, but no comparison. Forgiveness on the yoga mat also entails a loving attitude towards our own weaknesses, perceived faults and lack of stamina. We must come to terms with our only gift: the present moment, focusing on happiness, centered in detachment from public opinions.

A lovely, but challenging pose to test anyone’s patience and all forgiving love is Warrior III and the Poet poses.
Shall we try it?

Stand near the back end of the mat, raise your arms, and step forward one huge step with the right leg. Immediately raise the left leg to hip height, parallel to the floor, at the same time lowering the arms and torso also parallel to the floor. Challenging, isn’t it? Hold this strong position from 10 to 30 seconds, then put the right hand in front of the right foot on the mat, and turn out sideways, showing the torso towards the left side of the room, lifting the left arm up straight above the bottom arm.
Now that I got you in such a crazy position, let’s test your patience and balance even further! Lift your right hand to your chest and hold for a few seconds. This is the Poet Pose. Come out of the pose with grace, even if you fall a million times, come out smiling: you gave it your best shot.
Repeat on the other side, reversing legs and arms.


Aranka Shkolnikov, is a long time yoga enthusiast, practicing not only hatha yoga, but also other esoteric forms of yoga since the early 1990′s.

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