About Rigidity and Freedom in Yoga

Recently, a student arrived 25 minutes late for a class and got quite hysterical when I refused to allow them in.

It was a real test of patience and compassion to explain to the student why it would not be in their best interest to join, while keeping the other students inside waiting.

Amongst the spectrum of emotionally charged arguments I was subjected to in that brief but intense debate, the one that really stood out was “Why are you so rigid? Sadhguru is so benevolent! Why can’t you be more flexible?”

I thought it might be best to express my views on this in an article because this is a question that has many dimensions to it.

Firstly, the nature of the class is such that if a person enters beyond a particular time after the session starts, they might have missed out on certain key aspects of a practice (like preparatory steps) which would not allow them to experience the full benefits of the practice.

Secondly, there are greater chances of doing a practice incorrectly or injuring oneself if the body is not prepared or the mind is not settled.

Thirdly, it is unfair to the others who have arrived on time, to allow someone arriving late, as it devalues their efforts to be on time. While they may not mind or express any disappointment explicitly, the incident could set a negative precedent for the future.

But on a subtler level, the acceptance of the teacher’s decision in a complicated situation with respect and trust is necessary, without which both parties can go through an unnecessary amount of emotional trauma.

If one were to purely pursue their self interest logically without a broader understanding of the situation, it is an endless exercise in futility. As the wise would say, when you eventually succeed, you actually fail.

Naturally, there is a period of disappointment that follows a decision that may not seem to be in line with what one expects or demands at a given moment. And this again is helpful as it matures one to accept situations as they are, and not as we think they should be.

On the spiritual journey, a certain surrender of the ego is important, and most often uncomfortable. The childish sense of entitlement to what one strongly desires, even when it could be detrimental to themselves and others, causes untold suffering.

True freedom does not lie in being able to do or get whatever we want, but in doing whatever is needed without struggle.

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