The law of cause and effect is a universal law, just like gravity. It stands for a definite as it brings a definite effect. In our yoga practice, we also understand this law with the Sanskrit word Hatha: the balance between “Ha” which is the action, and “Tha” the reflection of that action.
The law of cause and effect is a fundamental concept that we learn right from the beginning of our practice at the Himalayan Iyengar Yoga Centre. We observe in Tadasana for example, how stretching the toes brings power into our front thighs. Stretching the toes is the cause, the action, and feeling our thighs becoming firm is the effect.
First, let’s look at the cause. We need to know what action to perform. Only the right action will bring the expected effect. Only by stretching the toes will we be able the find the centres of the heels.
If we don’t stretch the toes we cannot find the centres. If the cause is not there, the effect won’t be either.
Then, how to perform that action? We need to perform the correct action in the appropriate way: not doing too much, nor too little. Too much action will bring too much tension, contraction, closing – wanting it too much. Too little will not work either, it’s the lazy way. The middle way is the answer.
Now let’s look at the effects. Eventually, the effects we are looking for in our yoga practice, are there to bring us freedom and peace. For instance, we look to release tensions in our body, and instead bringing space. So how are these effects manifesting?
The effect of an action, in our yoga practice, is felt through sensations in the body. When we stretch the toes, we feel the stretching in the soles of the feet. We can only observe an effect, reflect on it, feel it, see it. It is passive, the opposite of active. Inaction is something we are not used to do in our modern society, where we are constantly driven towards action, doing, achieving.
However, becoming an observer is a very important part of our yoga journey. Indeed, it is only in observing the effect of an action that we can know if that action is right. Checking that we have the right effect is essential in our yoga practice. Then, in order to observe properly, we need clarity in our mind. That is fundamental. We want to clearly feel a sensation, knowing thus that the right action is being made. It is important not to confuse guessing with knowing. We can guess or imagine that a sensation is there, even if it isn’t. That’s not what we want, we want to know what is actually happening. Clarity comes from silence, quietness, and focus, qualities essential in our practice.
In yoga, we aim to benefit from our practice throughout our daily life. The law of cause and effect is effective everywhere all the time. By reminding ourselves of doing the right actions by observing clearly the effects of these actions, both in our yoga practice and in our life, we deepen our understanding of this law, and can benefit from it in every aspects of our lives.
Himalayan Iyengar Yoga Centre