Advanced yoga is not advanced asana, advanced yoga is advanced awareness. Awareness is wisdom earned through paying attention.
Avidya is the first of the kleshas. The kleshas are obstacles to freedom and joy. Avidya translates to "not-knowing". "Vidya" means wisdom or true knowledge, and "a" means "not". The practices of inquiry, curiosity, expanding perspective, and awareness help bring us to knowing what is true. Here are some areas where we often get it wrong:
Patanjali tells us that when the mind is still we perceive ourselves and the world as they really are. The state of mind called Yoga is oftern compared to a crystal or diamond so pristine that it reflects back exactly whatever is presented to it (I.4I). This reflective consciousness does not add, subtract, edit or rearrange the perception to suit its own agendas…
Making assumptions is such an insidious habit that it is the basis of much of our trouble in everyday life, scrambling our perceptions so that we taint our relationships and smearing our perceptual process so that we cannot recognize our own true identity…. Maybe someone let us down long ago and now we assume that everyone around us is incompetent, and so we conduct all of our conversations in a patronizing tone that gets on the nerves of even our most patient acquaintance. This habit of projection complicates life immeasurably, which is not the direction we want to go if we want to be happy.
The truly contemplative mind, on the other hand, is neutral. This neutrality does not imply dullness, or inactivity but instead a kind of alert presence that is always available. The neutral mind is called the “witness.” When we’re witnessing from this neutral, nonpresumptive place, the “me” is absent – the me being whatever collection of things I have stockpiled to make up my identity…the process of Yoga is one of deconstruction – removing these assumed identities….
Then when we see, we are seeing things as they really are…This choiceless awareness requires a radical form of honesty and acceptance: acceptance of self, acceptance of others, and acceptance of things just as they are…This relaxing into life affords us an immediate experience of happiness ad peacefulness that is not affected by life’s vicissitudes." (p. 176-78)
The practice of yoga offers us an amazing opportunity to know ourselves.