By Swami Prajñananda
Darkness cannot resist the light. In a dark room, if you light a single candle, it banishes the dark. It works the same way when you do your yoga practices. Whether you are doing Svaroopa® yoga poses, breathing, mantra, meditation or more, there is a common denominator. You are invoking the light of your own being, which yoga names your capital-S Self. This light dwells within you as you.
Yet for most people the perception of this light is diminished or hidden — covered over by the darkness of not-knowing. Instead of seeing and being the light, you focus on the limitations that keep you in the dark.
Yoga gives you the tools to cut through those limitations, like a candle flame cutting through the darkness. When you access your own inner light, it can then shine forth fully. This quality of light and illumination is one reason that it is called “the fire of yoga.” This fire consumes what holds you back from the knowing of your own Self.
Here at the Ashram, we live across the street from a river. During the transition seasons we get heavy fog coming off the river in the mornings. The fog can be so thick that you are not able to see even a foot in front of you. Yet, like clockwork, when the sun rises, the light dissolves the fog.
There is a yogic teaching that describes this phenomenon:
citi-vahnir avaroha-pade channo’pi maatrayaa meyendhana.m plu.syati.— Pratyabhij~nah.rdayam 14
The Fire of Consciousness, though concealed in the individual, burns away Maayaa’s limiting knowledge like fire burns fuel.— translated by Swami Nirmalananda
In this aphorism, your own Self is named Chiti — the Fire of Consciousness. Fire is a good description for Chiti because the qualities of fire are light and heat. The light in this case refers to Chiti’s knowing, named Consciousness. Consciousness is the knowing of your own being; you know that you are you. This knowing is and can be described as light.
It’s like in those old-school cartoons when the character all of a sudden realizes something and a lightbulb goes on above their head. The light in the lightbulb represents understanding and knowing.
Chiti’s knowing also has the quality of heat. Like how fire burns fuel, the heat of your knowing burns away the density of your not-knowing. The not-knowing is named Maayaa, the contracting energy that conceals the light of your own being. When you are stuck in Maayaa, you think that you are this small and limited individual, lonely and alone. Svaroopa® yoga specializes in the turning within, to invoke your own inner light, which is the Fire of Consciousness. Like fog in the sunlight, Maayaa’s limiting knowledge is dissolved by this inner fire.
So how does this affect you in your day-to-day life? When you do Svaroopa® yoga practices, you shift your focus from Maayaa to Chiti, from outside to inside, from not-knowing to knowing. With this shift in focus, the density and thickness, which had been blinding you from seeing your own brilliant Self, simply melts away. You get immediate results. In your spiritual practice, you settle more deeply into your Self. It is a feeling of ease within your own skin. You feel like you. When you feel like you, you show up in your life with that same sense of ease.
Because you are based in the light of your own being, everything in your life becomes easier and more joyous. Even when you experience challenges, you face them with surety and steadiness. Darkness cannot resist the light because the light is who you truly are. To live in the light, to know and be it, do more yoga.