Its an insidious notion within spiritual practices - the harder or more efficiently I practice the more perfect I will become. Often time Yoga teachers and yogis alike are looked upon to be a template of health, dedication and steady balance. Sure we all strive for this, and in the age of social media, it’s more often than not difficult to separate the notion of happiness with perceived happiness.

Yoga is oft looked upon as an “easy” / surefire approach to enlightenment, to deal with flare up of emotions and to hold fast the idea of compassionate listening and understanding. The truth is we suffer, we suffer a great deal and if we use our practice appropriately we are intimately aware of this suffering

From a personal view, the practice and embodiment of yoga does not happen from the knowledge gained, but rather the application of the knowledge we gain to every single situation that arises. According to the Yoga Sutras (1.33), one of the tenements to purify the mind and introduce serenity is to practice compassion (karuna) in the face of suffering. This compassion extends first and foremost, to ourselves and then externally to others. Our interactions with others after all a mirror for our true reflection.

The practice of karuna asks us to step aside from our notions of perceptions and to open ourselves up to the reality of the situation. It begs us to step into our humanity rather than step away from it and to address suffering with a question of not how can I help, but what am I doing to add to the suffering of myself and others around me? Yoga and compassion are not about ways to step away from pain or turn off the external world, but a method used to embrace darkness and adjust our reaction to them. It asks of us to linger between that point of stimuli and response and approach each interactions inward and outside of ourselves with deep compassion from a place that acknowledges and embraces suffering. When we learn to exude compassion with every interaction our energy is harnessed for useful and safe interactions.