The Bhagavad Gita and our approach to Yoga during difficult times

The Bhagavad Gita, and analysing our Approach to Action – March 2020

As yoga practitioners it is interesting to investigate our actions in response to the current CoVid19 Corona Virus crisis.

Ashtanga yoga practitioners are generally in very good health and for most infection with this virus will likely result in nothing more than a flu like illness, or possibly very mild symptoms. It is easy for us to deduce that there is nothing too much to worry about. Unfortunately this virus appears to be much more readily transmitted than the flu or other cold viruses and importantly, those infected can carry the virus for up to 14 days before showing symptoms potentially spreading the infection to many others without knowing. As it is a new virus there is also no latent immunity in the community, nor is there a vaccine or specific treatment and so it will likely infect many more people than a regular flu would, with a far higher mortality rate, particularly in the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions.

As yoga practitioners it is important for us to see this bigger picture beyond how it impacts our own lives (and those we are directly connected to) should we become infected.

It is also an opportunity for us to look deeply into what it means to practice yoga.

In the Bhagavad Gita 6:29, Krishna says ‘The yogi who is yoked to the Self perceives the ātman in every being. He sees all beings in the ātman and the ātman in all beings and perceives everything as equal.’ 

In 2:47 He says – ‘Your right is to work only and never to the fruit thereof. Do not be the cause of the fruit of action; nor let your attachment be to inaction.’

And in 3:7  – ‘He who controls the senses and action by the power of His will , and remaining unattached undertakes the Yoga of Action through those senses, Arjuna, he excels.’

Fear drives us to act in a way that brings about terrible results. It may also cause us to choose in-action in the face of a new situation. The Bhagavad Gita tells us that in all situations we have to act, and to act decisively. Inaction is only appropriate as it relates to our attachment to outcomes. Hence, we should act but not be attached (a kind of inaction) to the outcomes of our actions, and act only for the sake of performing right actions. One of the results of this kind of approach is that it is possible to act while remaining calm, clear and without fear.

Clear minded actions, performed without attachment to the results lead to highly effective action from a source more closely connected to truth. In yoga, connecting to this source rather than resorting to our samskaras or patterns as the source of action, is our aim.

Each time we practice, using the breath, drishti and vinyasa as our tools, it is an opportunity to bring the mind, senses and body under control. In this state we can analyse each situation effectively and act from a place of clarity and efficiency devoid of fear. Seeing that all beings are within ourselves and ourselves within all beings results in effective action that benefits all – with the potential for great benefit to our ever expanding circles of relationship.
 Lokāḥ samastāḥ sukhino bhavantu!