The Peacock is a symbol in yoga of Sattva, which means light, clarity, illumination. The reason the Peacock is a symbol for Sattva is because of its feathers. When the peacock opens its feathers it looks like a thousand eyes are looking at you. These eyes symbolize the light moving through you from within and your awakening. The Peacock pose is a great example of how hard it is to achieve this state of Sattva too. It requires a tremendous amount of strength and flexibility, and a tremendous amount of balance.
The concept of Sattva comes from Samkhya philosophy. Samkhya philosophy looks at the entire manifest world as being made of basically 3 things which are combining in an unlimited number of combinations to give us everything in the world. It's kind of like the primary colors mixing with each other in different combinations to give us every color imaginable. The other two things that make up the world, according to Samkhya, are: Tamas, which is darkness, heaviness, inertia; And, Rajas, which is movement, fire, intensity. The animals that represent Tamas and Rajas are the sloth and the bull.
In yoga, we are on a journey towards the light. It's a circular journey. A journey that leads us back to where we started. The thing that has changed when we come full circle isn't the world around us but us and our relationship to the world. This is the big shift of perspective in yoga. If you are identifying too much with your mind and your ego, you don't want to change your perspective, instead, your mind and ego want the world around you to change. This leads to endless suffering.
Often we start on our journey with a lot of darkness and heaviness and attachment to the mind and identification with the ego. How do we get out of this dark place? The first stage of our journey involves movement, activity, going into the fire, the intensity, and experiencing the quality of Rajas. The movement, fire and intensity helps move us out of the darkness but it doesn't take us to the light. We need to find some of that quality of stillness that was in the darkness while we are in the fire. This is the key to reaching a Sattvic place. Can you go into the fire? Can you open up towards the fire? Can you surrender into the fire? Can you breathe into the fire? Can you find comfort in the middle of the discomfort? This surrender and letting go while you are in the middle of the fire will take you to the place of Sattva, the light, clarity, illumination.
When you find the perfect balance of concentration and surrender, when you are in the fire, embracing the intensity, and you find yourself able to let go, as you move deeper towards the fire, then you might have a moment of clarity, an experience of Sattva. Sometimes you have these experiences of Sattva during your practice and sometimes you reach a place of Sattva at the end of the practice. The journey in yoga takes you back to where you started. The difference is that you are different, you have shifted. You are the one who has changed, not the world around you. It's your relationship to the world around you that has changed.
In the stillness, when you have reached a place of Sattva, when the mind is quiet, if you go in deep enough, you experience pure awareness, the part of you that is pure awareness, the part of you that is left over when you let go of your attachment to the body, mind, ego, thoughts and emotions.
This is Self-realization.
This is the journey of yoga.
Moving from the darkness into the light.