Why is Yoga Called a Discipline?
By International Yoga Day - 11.1 2017
Atha yoganushasanam – The disciplines of Yoga mentioned in Patanjali Yoga Sutra are Shasana and Anushasana. Shasana means rules someone imposes on you. Anushasana is the rule you impose upon yourself. Now, why is yoga called a discipline? Where is the need for discipline? When does the need for discipline arise?
When you are thirsty and want to drink water, you do not say “Oh! This is a rule, I must drink water”. When you are hungry, you just eat. When it comes to the question of enjoying oneself, no discipline is necessary.
Where does discipline come into the picture? Discipline arises when something is not very charming to begin with. Isn’t it? When you are happy, when you are in peace or happiness, then you are already in yourself.
There is no discipline there. But when the mind is wagging its tail all the time, then discipline is essential to calm it down.
The fruit of it is eventually blissful, joyful. As a diabetic says, “I have the discipline not to eat sugar.”
There are three types of happiness.
Sattvic — happiness which is not pleasurable to begin with, but ends in joy.
Rajasic — happiness that seems to begin well but ends in misery.
Tamasic — there appears to be happiness but in reality there is only misery from beginning to end.
No discipline is necessary for tamasic happiness. Wrong discipline results in rajasic happiness. For sattvic happiness, discipline is essential to begin with. It need not be uncomfortable all the time.
But if it is uncomfortable, then you should be able to bear with it. You need discipline. That is why Patanjali begins with the present, when things are not clear and when your heart is not in the right place.
Discipline and yoga – It is nobody’s imposition; it is self-imposed. There is a lot we impose on ourselves — every morning we wake up and brush our teeth, we then brush them again before going to bed. This is your discipline. However, these have been self-imposed from childhood. Haven’t they?
When you were a child, your mother had to impose the discipline on you. Then, once it became a habit, you understood it was for your own good. Then you found it was no longer your mother’s rule but your own.
In the same way, keeping yourself clean, hygienic, exercising, meditating, being kind, considerate etc. All these rules you have imposed on yourself are all discipline.. Isn’t it?
Yoga means uniting with your source. When does that happen? This happens when the mind, which is chattering all the time, suddenly becomes silent.