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November 2015 - Yoga and Time

Dear Yoga Friends,

I was recently in the car with my daughters, and somehow the conversation turned to the super power we would like to have if granted one. I said that I would like the power to freeze time for everyone and everything except for me, at any moment. Then I would happily go about catching up on things, perhaps even do the nice full yoga practice that I had to abbreviate that morning. When I felt relaxed and ready to start the wheels of the universe turning again, I would happily unfreeze time. To this one of my daughters replied, "Oh, Sabrina the teenage witch can do that." Of course I was impressed, and jealous.

The Vibhuti Pada of the Yoga Sutras mentions special time-related powers conferred on a yogi who has reached certain pinnacles of practice, for example: "knowledge of the past and future", "knowledge of previous lives", and "knowledge of the course of destiny". Albert Einstein had the revolutionary idea that time is relative, that the passage of time might depend on a person's circumstances. Sutra III.53, which may predate Albert by a couple thousand years or so, also examines the subjective nature of time. Here is a translation from B.K.S. Iyengar's Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali:

By samyama [integrated concentration and meditation] on moment and on the continuous flow of moments, the yogi gains exalted knowledge, free from the limitations of time and space.

I'll admit to being particularly fascinated by this sutra and to have referenced it in previous writings (see Yoga and Time Management). But coming back to it recently made me see that somehow this sutra, should I ever have the good fortune to grasp it fully, embodies the essence of yoga. Yoga is a meditative practice offering that special power to freeze time, perhaps not quite in the way I had in mind, but in a way that offers a similar sense of freedom and calm.

In this fast-paced era in which so many of us are under incessant pressure to do so many things in what feels like a too-short time, I would think that this sutra would be getting a huge amount of media attention. Why isn't it front page news?




Chad Balch