This week, I taught on the word "dharma."
Dharma is a unique concept among the spiritual traditions of the world. Often translated as "duty" or "law," dharma is the idea that the universe is inherently self-organizing and that there is, in some sense, a right way of doing things.
It is my belief that our participation in the dharma is not determined by how well we are able to obey these universal laws, but rather by how we exercise our free will within the context of our own life and in our communities. To realize more fully your own role in the dharma (called sva dharma), you have to inquire deeply into the choices you make in response to the circumstances of your life.
On the yoga mat, this is reflected in the choices we make concerning our bodies and how we organize our practice around the raw material of our lives. If you are injured, you have a choice to push through pain or begin to heal by modifying or working therapeutically. If you are feeling isolated, will you choose to reach out to your fellow students or wall yourself?
Hopefully, as we mature in our practice we will begin to make choices that reflect a desire to embody the divine within us rather than the demonic. As the laws of biology govern that plants will grow towards the sun, so too may we, by our free will, endeavor to direct our lives towards the light.