Thought and Feeling – Buddhist philosophy and Hot Yoga

Buddhist philosophy is intensely practical – in a very physical way. This blog tries to explain how you can use your Yogafurie Hot Yoga practice to deepen your understanding of Buddhist ideas.

An image of Buddha carved into a stone wall

Invitation for Free Thinking

The Kalama Sutta relates a discussion between the Buddha and the peoples of a district in the north east of India. In it, the Buddha encourages people to think for themselves in a reasonable way. What follows is not a translation, because most translations use a sort of Biblical language. I’ve presented a contemporary reading.

Do not believe something just because you keep hearing it
Or just because it’s tradition
Or if it’s really just a rumour
Or just because it’s in a scripture
Or if there’s no evidence
Or because everyone takes it as true all the time without ever checking
Or just because it sounds really reasonable
Or just because people have pondered it for a long time
Or just because the person telling you seems very clever
Or just because the person telling you is recognised as a teacher.
Research, enquire and think for yourself. When you can justify that a teaching is good,
won’t lead you or others to harm, when you can see that wise people praise the
teaching, when it’s clear to you that following the teaching leads to benefit and
happiness for everyone – then stick to it and follow the teaching carefully.

A model skeleton thinking for itself in a pensive pose

Yogafurie classes often teach simple sequences, and the teacher calls attention to key body actions. Follow as closely as you can (and never hesitate to ask questions if you need to). Ask yourself – do you agree with the body action descriptions? If you follow carefully, do you feel more stable, can you open your body? And over time as classes come and go – are you stronger, can breathe more easily? People report big changes, and I think the secret is to stay with what the teacher is saying, to stay present in the moment.

Students meditating during  Yogafurie hot yoga class


Do humans have souls, and are we reborn again and again? Buddha taught that rebirth is happening all the time, but it’s such a big question that I think we need to take a step back. Again, your Hot Yoga practice can inform you on this.

We come to class after class and repeat lots of the postures over and over again, in an effort to get them just right. Put that another way – I’m repeating the same mistakes most of the time and it takes time for me to spot them and change myself.

Doing things wrong without even noticing it is like a default: it’s what we do until (and in fact often for a long time after) someone points out the error. It’s unconscious action, the unedited repetition of what we always do. This is the concept of samsara – until we actively notice and change ourselves, we’ll keep living the same kind of life. The Buddha went as far as to say that it’s not just the same kind of life, but life after life after life.

Mini statues of Buddha stacked on a shelf

Yogafurie Hot Yoga teachers in particular will explain the details of what you’re doing. So again – tune in, use your free thinking and reflect. It really is a golden opportunity every time you get something wrong; this is clear from Buddha’s teachings.

Form is emptiness

What the hell does that mean? You can look it up on the web and quickly get lost in philosophy. But again, your Yogafurie Hot Yoga practice is your classroom. Physical movement will make the statement seem obvious to you, thanks to our Vinyasa style.

Our teachers explain the postures clearly, and they flow the postures together to take you through many movement transitions. The “final” pose seems very important, but soon does the way you move in an out of it. You’re looking for alignments and support methods all the time really.

Your conclusion – when you stop and consider it – is that every point in the movement chain is as important as the “final” pose. There isn’t a final pose anyway, because the whole series just flows and flows. Really, there’s just a few moments when the movement slows right down and the teacher labels it something in Sanskrit. There aren’t any poses really – just labels and movement. So, Form (the posture in this example) is Empty.

Yogafurie students taking a form or shape during a class

We play with emptiness every time we practice at Yogafurie. We build up a body shape as if it was separate from all the movements before it and after it. Then we destroy the shape and move to another, to remind ourselves that there are no fixed and independent things.

I’ll leave it to you to think about the opposite side of the equation. We’ve seen how form is emptiness. So have a think about how emptiness can be form and see if you can fully cook your noodle!

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