Episode 35: The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali - How To Use Them In Your Life with Kelsey Delane

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Kelsey Delane is a Yoga Mentor & Reiki Master who guides fellow Yogis & Yoga Teachers toward more sustained joy.  She has completed an impressive 1,000 hours of yoga training ranging from kids yoga, to trauma informed yoga, to Yoga Philosophy.  Her most passionate subject is the teachings of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.  She shares this knowledge through one on one mentorship, online platforms and in-person workshops. Kelsey also shares her love of Yoga by training upcoming teachers throughout Orange County, and working with teen girls through the UPLIFT Yoga Foundation.

Kelsey has a radiant and serene way about her, and it's hard not to absorb some of that goodness when talking to her.  In this episode we talk about how yoga transformed her from a distraught college student with severe chronic anxiety and depression into a radiant being who who enjoys a strong and peaceful relationship with her inner world.  Of course, we also dive into her area of expertise - The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.  She gives us some tips on how to learn the teachings and how we can use them to become co-creators of our lives.

Key Nuggets:

  • The practice of yoga is the practice of the mind
    • One lesson that brought Kelsey through her toughest times is the recognition that we are not our minds.
    • The teachings of the sutras say that yoga is the ability to harness the fluctuations of the mind.  That we aren’t defined by our mind (Prakrati (physical world) vs. Purusha (unchanging light, the highest self radiates joy))
    • When we realize this (that we are not our mind) then we are able to choose what thoughts we want to entertain and allow to grow roots, and which thoughts we want to allow to just pass through.
    • What helped Kelsey with this understanding is that she began to recognize the impermanence of her feelings.
      • When she practiced yoga and gave herself a chance to sit in stillness, she became aware of the thoughts in her head (ex. Mind seemed to be moving a million miles per minute).  That is key because many people don't even realize that these thoughts are happening in the first place
      • She began to formulate that if she's able to notice these thoughts speeding by, then she's separate from them and ultimately she is not her thoughts.  As she continued to practice sitting in stillness, she also began to notice a stillness , a kind of calm, beneath all the thoughts.
  • Life will always have challenge and there really isn’t an arrival point.  With that in mind, joy is a choice not a destination.  It is liberating that you can choose santosha (contentment) at anytime.
    • To clarify, joy is not necessarily being happy all the time, but it's about embracing all the different experiences that come our way.  Without the fullness of different experiences and emotions it would be difficult to feel true joy.
  • Another perspective that helped Kelsey through her challenging times is that rather than figuring out how to avoid pain and suffering, she shifted her mindset to asking herself how can she love and support herself through the unpredictable nature of life.
    • Kelsey's tool recommendations to cultivate a supportive friendship with yourself to get through tough times:
      • Journaling – when you’re caught up in the moment, flush it out on paper.  Let the thoughts freely flow – don’t edit or filter.  This will give you a clearer picture of what’s really going on and see where you can be gentler with yourself.  It allows you to re-evaluate if this is the attitude that you want to take and to see if there’s something that you need to ask for.
      • Ask for help from others. Share a struggle with somebody that’s safe, that you know and love and receive support from them.
      • Practicing Yoga
        • Make use of the mind body connection and bring movement into life so that you can allow the emotions to move through you.
        • Physical practice can help soothe your nervous system.  As you calm down, you’re able to find discernment to where you can be more gentle with yourself.
      • Pranayama – breathwork to anchor
        • Kelsey’s favorite pranayama (breath) practice is belly breathing - breathe deep into belly to connect back to body and out of the mind.  Place a hand on belly to help physically feel and root into the breath 
    • Practice above tools so that you can apply it easily in the moment.  You don’t need to wait for some scheduled time. 
  • Yoga Sutras
    • The Yoga Sutras are part of the Vedas and are the foundational texts of yoga.  Written by Patanjali. 
    • Sutra means “thread”.
    • There are 195 threads of wisdom that show us practical ways to reduce suffering and bring about more sustained joy.
    • The sutras teaches the broader set of tools available to us for the practice of our mind beyond the asanas.  
      • “to say that asanas (the poses) is yoga is like holding up two eggs and saying that it is a cake”
      • Yoga is about the transformation of the mind 
    • There are four chapters in the Yoga Sutras:  Chapters one and two are practical wisdom while chapters three and four are more abstract.
    • The sutras provides an accessible trial and error approach.  Allows you to test out the tools and see how it works for you.  Teaches us to become our own guide.  It’s intended to be customized for each individual; it’s not about following somebody else’s instructions blindly. 
    • New to sutras?  Kelsey’s advice on where to start:
      • Self study by reading a book with quality translation.  Read it slowly, one sutra a day and maybe even meditate on it. 
        •  If a sutra falls flat it’s okay.  It might not be ready to be unfolded for you at this time.
        • Kelsey recommends finding a teacher or a community to discuss the concepts because someone else may be seeing it through a different lens and may be able to shine light on it for you to look at it with a different perspective
      • On that note, Kelsey teaches that Sutras is wisdom teaching which is different than informational downloading.  It's meant to be consumed and digested with a teacher and/or community.  Studying in this manner moves you from intellectual knowledge and into realized wisdom.
        • Find a teacher or mentor in your area by starting to look and ask.  If you know somebody who has what you’re looking for, reach out to them.
        • Keep eyes out for courses
        • Find a community in your area and if you can’t find one perhaps you want to start one.
        • Find an online group to discuss sutras (Kelsey has a free Facebook group available call Sutra Sanghas)
      •  “as soon as we open our eyes and ears and are willing to put ourselves out there, the relationships that will nourish us and the communities that we’re really yearning for will arise”
    • The sutras that Kelsey tries to live by everyday:
      • Prakti Prasha Bhavana: “If you are suffering, try to look at it another way”
        • A reminder of the choices that we have and that we get to choose how to perceive a situation
      • The beginning of chapter 2 where it teaches the final niyamas of the 8 limb path
        • Tapas – discipline required for new behaviour
        • Swadyaya – self reflection
          • Iswara-pranidhana – surrender
        • Theses three steps helps us create change, one step at a time, in any areas of our lives.

One of Your Biggest Lessons So Far:

You are a co-creator of your reality.  Although you can’t control many facets of your life, you can make choices that can support you in arriving to more joy.  In the face of adversity remember that you are a participant of the experience.  Ask yourself: What can I do to co-create a more joyful experience?

One nugget of wisdom you can share with fellow seekers who are also on this journey of growth and transformation:

Enjoy the ride because there is no destination.  There won’t be an arrival point where we don’t need to be on this journey. In accepting this truth, it allows us to indulge and savour the process rather than keeping our eyes on some imaginary destination that doesn’t exist.

Links & Resources:

If you have any questions for Kelsey or want to learn more, connect with her through:

Website:  www.kelseydelaneyoga.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/kelseydelaneyoga

Instagram:  www.instagram.com/kelseydelaneyoga

Book Recommendations:

The Yogasutra of Patanjali LIBERATING ISOLATION by Frans Moors – Kelsey’s favorite translation because it includes the original Sanskrit but also dives in to a deep discussion of what each concept is about

The Heart of Yoga by Desikachar

Kelsey also has a Sutras Facebook group called Sutras Sangha where she discusses one sutra every week.