Yoga Sutra 1.23

“Offering regular prayers to God with a feeling of submission to his power, surely enables the state of Yoga to be achieved.” – Yoga Sutra 1.23, Desikachar, tr. 


In the middle of class–a bump, an exclamation: “Oh no!” Thick, red Naked Juice pouring over the floor, someone’s bag (knock off or designer?). A student leaves to fetch paper towel and returns with just enough to dry off the bag.

The floor stays red. Thick juicy red, the blood of my students’ attention seeping into the tile.

I pause in my lecture about verbs, frown, and continue. Should the whole class stop for red juice on the floor? No, I decide. Let their guilty shame be their punishment. The rest of the class deserve to continue. I shouldn’t have to tell 18-year-old adults to clean up their own mess.


Yesterday was an eventful day. One thing after another: students not showing up for class when they had a presentation to do. Another student double-scheduling herself during her mandatory tutorial session with me, thereby missing her mandatory meeting. A tutee saying, “I’m sorry I’m asking you so many questions when you’re so tired.” It’s okay, I say, it’s my job to answer your questions. My exhaustion doesn’t matter.

After tutoring, I slink back to my office and shut the door. Roll out the yoga towel I use as my office meditation mat. I lie down, set the meditation timer on my phone, and the ringing calm of Tibetan singing bowls fills the air. Using my prayer beads to count my breath, I pray: inhale, exhale. God. Inhale, exhale, God.

Student anxieties swirl in my mind–the one who skipped the tutorial and the one who bore the brunt of my tired anger. The ones who skipped class. The large stack of papers to grade. The one who sighed when I gave homework and said, “I hate college.” The red juice on the floor, and the culprits who did not clean it up after class.

Inhale, exhale, God. Next bead. Inhale, exhale, God.

Annie Dillard wrote a poem about counting with God’s name:


Numbers from one to ten, however, are called
“God.” In other words, counting to ten you would
say, “God, God, God, God, God, God, God, God, God,
God.” It is possible to distinguish among these
numbers by the tone in which each is pronounced.
“God,” for example, corresponding to our “five,”
is pitched relatively high on the musical scale,
and accordingly sounds an inquisitive, even plaintive,
note. It is in sharp contrast to the number corre-
sponding to our “ten,” which has a slightly accented,
basso finality, thus: “God.” 

Each breath, each bead–a surrendering to the God who fills presence and consciousness. God.

Twenty minutes later, the Tibetan singing bowl sounds again and I realize that for the final five minutes I have not been thinking. I have surrendered my anxieties. I have been breathing. The state of yoga.


The culprits did not clean up the red juice. They left and did not return.

Three other students stayed after class to ask me questions. As they turned to go, they saw the red and said, “Should we clean this up? This is our classroom. We use it.” They did not point fingers, saying, They should have cleaned this up. Two students leave and return with huge clumps of paper towel, cleaning up the mess of their neighbors.

Inhale, exhale, God.


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