An important aphorism from the Yoga Sutra (one of the reference texts of yoga) uses the natural image of the earth: “Just as the farmer breaks the dam that prevents the water from flowing onto his land, the elimination of obstacles is the origin of all transformation” (IV-3, translation by Françoise Mazet).

The Viniyoga teaching (centred on adapting techniques to each individual) of yoga takes the work of the farmer as its model: “Everything that needs to be is in the earth: the soil, the seed, the sun, the water. We are like this field: the seed and everything that needs to be is in us, but not in the right place” says Desikachar (Indian yogi, 1938-2016, who contributed to the development of yoga in the West). According to Desikachar, yoga techniques are designed to remove obstacles and skilfully move the lines so that the vital energy flows where it needs to in ourselves, like a farmer irrigating his field.

Transformations then occur naturally, automatically and silently. To practise yoga is to reconnect with this primordial source, which is already there in each of us but which we need to ‘uncover’ (remove what covers). Our personal duty (« Svadharma “) consists of clearing away the clutter and reconfiguring the ‘field’ that we are, and then cultivating and nurturing it over time with all our care and attention. It’s a matter of becoming, in a way, an expert in “self-cultivation” to use Michel Foucault’s expression about the spiritual exercises of ancient philosophy: “You have to be your object for yourself throughout your existence”. The yogi is the farmer of himself, or more accurately, the farmer of the Self.

Extract from “Un yoga occidental”, by Philippe Fillot, published by Almora.