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Henry David Thoreau On Yoga.

Henry David Thoreau

The aim of a Yogi is developing a new relationship to the world. For the man that lives through the 5 senses experiences a life beyond heaven, we become like Dante, but the journey is one through the soul. Yogi’s do not live perfect lives, but in pursuing the enlightened path we aim at remembering our beauty, loveliness, potential, and possibility. We contemplate the philosophy, bend, twist, and use breathe to remember our divinity. Long before the physical postures came to America Henry David Thoreau fell in love with the philosophy. He spoke about the eventual freedom that comes from devoted oneself to the art of yoga saying:

Free in this world as the birds in the air, disengaged from every kind of chains, those who practice the yoga gather in Brahma the certain fruit of their works. … Depend upon it that, rude and careless as I am, I would fain practice the yoga faithfully. … The yogi, absorbed in Contemplation, contributes in his degree to creation; he breathes a divine perfume, he hears wonderful things. Divine forms traverse him without tearing him, and, united to the nature which is proper to him, he goes, he acts as animating Original matter. … To some extent, and at rare intervals, even I am a yogi.

Yoga Philosophy

Corporations are attempting to colonize every second of our lives. Our generation remains trapped by the clutches of constant entertainment. It is adamant we remain deeply in our present. One must learn to walk presently, sit presently, and simply breathe; we must be able to live doing things singerly. We only find contentment through a devotion to love. Love as a relationship to the world. Love is a willingness to fight against melancholy, and walk the path to immortality.

Henry Thoreau studied the philosophy of Hatha Yoga long before the physical postures came into American thought. Though yoga is today fully under the spell of capitalism, with many instructors more concerned with Instagram followers and monetizing the workout, it remains, for some, an honest investigation of oneself and their place in the world. In a society dominated by the distraction created in the attention economy, yoga offers a pause in an otherwise relentless world.

I cannot read a single word of the Hindoos without being elevated. Yogis are not concerned with the ‘heaven world,’ but seek to surpass it; otherwise they are not Yogis at all. This was not time subtracted from my life, but so much over and above my usual allowance. I realized what the Orientals meant by contemplation and the forsaking of works.

Henry David Thoreau Yoga

With a Yogi like devotion to being present in the world Henry says:

Sometimes, in a summer morning, having taken my accustomed bath, I sat in my sunny doorway from sunrise to noon, rapt in revery, amidst the pines and hickories and sumachs, while the birds sang or flitted noiseless through the house until by sun falling in at my west window, or the noise of some traveller’ s wagon on the distant highway, I was reminded of the lapse of time. I grew in those seasons like corn in the night, and they were far better than any of the work of the hands would have been. They were not time subtracted from my life, but so much over and above my usual allowance. I realized what the Orientals mean by contemplation and the forsaking of works.

Henry David Thoreau

“Probe the earth to see where your main roots run,” Henry David Thoreau advises. “Do what you love. Know your own bone; gnaw at it, bury it, unearth it, and gnaw it still.” Yet he is quick to point out that he cannot live up to all his own ideals. “These things I say; other things I do,” he confesses. “I am too easily contented with a slight and almost animal happiness. My happiness is a good deal like that of the woodchucks.” These letters make it plain that he could in fact be a warm and attentive friend. Letters to a spiritual seeker is a wonderful book that needs to be read diligently and studied seriously.

Henry David Thoreau

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