Important notice: Some of our classes are incorrectly showing ‘Class Full’ for some users due to a technical issue. Our engineers are working on it and we hope to have this resolved shortly.
Until then if you want to double check class availability, you can still log in and book via the triyoga Client Portal here.
If you need help please contact your specific triyoga centre here, and our teams will be happy to help you.

Important notice: Our booking system supplier is currently experiencing technical issues, which is causing account and checkout actions to fail in some cases. Their engineers are urgently working on it.
Until then, if you need help please email our customer care team at [email protected] or contact your specific triyoga centre here, and our teams will be happy to help you.

Important notice: Some users are experiencing login issues due to a technical issue upstream with our booking system provider. Their engineers are working on it. Until then you can still log in and book via 1) the triyoga app or 2) the triyoga Client Portal here.

Important notice: Our booking schedules are temporarily down due to a technical issue. Our engineers are working on it and we hope to have this resolved very shortly.
Until then, if you need help please email our customer care team at [email protected] or contact your specific triyoga centre here, and our teams will be happy to help you.

a yoga perspective on the mind

How wonderful the compass of the mind,
Whose illimitable reach
Can plumb the depths and climb the heights
Of abstruse ideation            

And yet the mind,
For all its vast capacity
To swallow all the world and more,
Is satisfied by something small.(1)

The mind, according to yoga philosophy, is an instrument of understanding, and understanding has two paths, external and internal. The former leads to comprehension of the universe, while the latter brings knowledge of the inner world of the soul. These distinct, contrasting paths are described in terms of a twofold purpose of the world as presented to our minds: experience and enlightenment leading to spiritual freedom. (2)

Each person as a living being is steered, as it were, by the thinking faculty, the mind, with ten subsidiary faculties whose function is perception and motor activity. These are the five senses and the five instruments of action (hands, feet, voice, genitals and anus).

The yoga literature describes five components forming the basic shape of the mind and five modes in which it operates. They can be likened, to take a modern analogy, to the hardware and software of a computer, and together they set the parameters which determine its functions and activities.

The components of the mind are characterised as afflictions, or more precisely, the causes of affliction and suffering. The first of these is ignorance of the distinction between the spiritual soul and the material mind. The second is the sense of individual identity. Next  is a pair of psychological dispositions: attachment and aversion with regard to objects, people and ideas. Finally there is the will to live or the survival instinct. The first component, ignorance, is the most fundamental and gives rise to the others. (3)

The modes of the mind relate to distinct ways in which it operates. The first is correct cognition or understanding. The second is incorrect cognition, which is shown to be false by a subsequent accurate cognition. The third is conceptualisation, which is based on the constructs of language rather than objective reality. The fourth mode is deep sleep. The fifth is memory. (4) The work of the mind is distributed entirely between these five modes.

This analysis of the structure and functions of the mind gives a systematic framework for understanding the various intellectual and emotional processes that constitute its input and output.

Breath is closely connected to the mind and affects emotional states. Yet physical conditions also affect the mind. For example, headaches, neck tension and eyestrain all reduce optimum mental functioning. For this reason the practice of postures that free and strengthen the neck and shoulders are helpful. Standing poses, twists and postures that involve stretching, clasping, folding and entwining the arms all keep the spinal connection to the head not constricted so that the pathways of blood and nerves remain healthy. In this way also youthfulness is maintained.

(1) From Cascade of Stars by Mira Mehta
(2) Yoga Sutra 2.18
(3) Yoga Sutra 2.3-4
(4) Yoga Sutra 1.6-11

Mira is the author of Yoga: the Iyengar Way, How to Use Yoga, Health through Yoga and Yoga Explained, and a poetry collection, Cascade of Stars. She runs The Yogic Path school in London.

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