Resisting the Yoke

One of the readings for the class talks about the meaning of the word yoga. It discusses about how yoga was seen as a yoke. The part that strikes me as I read the article today, is how the meaning of yoga was described as a “warrior dying and transcending into heaven.”

“White notes in his paper that the term “yoga” in the Vedas actually refers to a yoke, as in the yoke over animals — and at times a chariot in the midst of battle. Interestingly, in some of these very early writings, yoga was used to describe a warrior dying and transcending into heaven, being carried by his chariot to reach the gods and higher powers of being.”

This Strikes me as important because of the place where I am in life now. I am a disabled person. I am older, close to 60. Recently I had to move to a new place because of the loss of my marriage. The crying and the sadness has felt like dying. I have lost my dreams. My home. My town, my church, and most importantly my dreams of the days to come with the person I love most. No hope of reconciliation has been given. In a sense, I am dying to the second part of my life and being prepared for the third portion.

There is no sense or understanding of where this path is going. There is only my now. It’s why I lose track of days and time. My now may be a moment of joy at communing with the beauty around me. I’ve become aware of all that is around me. I am surrounded by extreme beauty. There is also grief. Not only my grief, but the grief of those around me for losses of which I do not know their name.

Because suffering is no fun, it seems I seek to avoid the yoke that will give direction on the the new path. This path I am on now is not one of my choosing. This path was born out of necessity. I needed a place to live. I needed an affordable and safe place. The move put me in a town that I do not know. It is a good town, but it is still one I do not know. When surrounded with so many unknown known factors, one often feels disoriented. I don’t feel particularly lost.

However there is a sense of total unfamiliarity . As a result, one does not know if it is a good path or not. That can only be discerned later on. As a result, there is another form of suffering. The suffering of not knowing. This is addressed in the another part of the article.

“The first value involved analyzing one’s own perception and cognitive state, understanding the root of suffering and using meditation to solve it. The mind was to “transcend” bodily pain or suffering in order to reach a higher level of being. The second aimed to uplift or broaden consciousness, and the third involved using yoga as a path to transcendence. The fourth was using yoga to enter other bodies and act supernaturally — perhaps the strangest and most mystical one.”

This second quote best summarized where I feel that I am now in my yoga practice. Through this practice, I am being led through each stage of a transformation. Yoga asanas are still in place, though daily practice of the asanas isn’t yet integrated into every day. Meditation is becoming more a part of the daily rhythm; as is breathing and checking on posture. The past two days have shown me that when stressed, I still am not attentive to breathing or posture. There is a lot to learn and absorb. Sugar intake has been reduced and overall diet is improving, though not Ayurvedic.

Now it seems an understanding appears in my heart and mind. If I must die to the life that made me happiest, if I can move on without that, I can let go of these habits and ways of living that are less beneficial. Today, while we were practicing the tree pose, I could my foot clinging to the earth like the tree picture here.

The practice of yoga is changing and transforming my life, not just 1 or 2 hours. Yoga is freeing me from anxiety as I allow myself to be yoked to its guidance. Yoga is relieving my body of certain pains as I die to old ways of being in the world. Yoga connects me to the tree, but yoga also connects me to me.


Quotes are from the article on

A Brief History of Yoga


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