So the Katha Upanishad of the Yajur-Vedas was the very first Upanishad to mention yoga. On the one hand, the Katha Upanishad is in itself a compilation of many different sources. On the other hand, the Katha was copied substantially by later Upanishads like the Mandukya and the Svetasvatara. The Mahabharata and the Bhagavad-Gita also borrowed heavily from the Katha. Hence the Katha is a central Upanishad – not only in relation to yoga. Cohen argues that even the god Krishna, from the Gita, could actually be a direct replacement of the teacher Yama figuring in the Katha.
Katha: The disciplining of the mind and the senses
It is not until the end of the Katha Upanishad that yoga is defined as a system of ascetic-meditative practices. Here yoga is characterised as the fixing of the senses:
I had to remind myself what I had told myself and Yoga poses journal others that I would let my body tell me what it wanted or needed. For whatever Yoga poses journal reasons, at that point it wanted meat. The way I was feeling about myself after falling from grace was certainly not yogic, that’s for sure. I confided to a yogi friend about what I was going through, and he warned me to try to avoid being rigid. He reminded me that we all need to be more gentle and forgiving with ourselves. When we examine our frustration at not being able to maintain discipline and our sense of defeat, we need to step back and either start over, or resolve the inner conflict that we are experiencing. This perspective has been an important lesson for me in my practice, and one that continues to challenge me. It may take some time to live the way we think we want to live.
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