In Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras we find an interesting definition of 3 things we need to be successful in yoga. Let’s take a look at that here.
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“This practice is well established when it’s performed very well, uninterruptedly, and for a very long time.” – Yoga Sutras, 1.14
I’ve long been attracted by the practicality of yoga. The simple message is that you get what you deserve. You want to advance? Work on it! Here are the specifics:
First, it has to be done right. Take the time to learn what’s required of you and then practice with love and with attention to detail. Embrace your practice with determination. Apply the Kaizen principle: try every day to do it just a little bit better. Every time you meditate, try to meditate with just a little more focus. Every day, try to be a little more attuned to your dharma, a little more in the here and now. Try to experience more bhakti and make God just a little more present in your life. Constantly seeking to do it just a little bit better gives joy to your life, and over time, one can make remarkable progress.
Second, you can’t stop. Life is your field of yoga practice. You live in yoga. This is not a religion for you to remember on Sundays or in rites of passage. This is not an exercise for Tuesdays and Thursdays in the evening. Yoga is fine-tuning your brain to live better at every moment. Everything that comes your way, everything you’re doing, is there for you to practice and advance in yoga.
Lastly, be patient. It’s going to take time. In the Bhagavad-gita, Krishna talks about it taking lifetimes! But before you become discouraged, remember that Krishna also says that it’s joyfully practiced. Every moment you’re at your best, whatever that best may be for now, is a good moment. You’ll feel the joy, the reward, of achieving your top potential. And then it keeps getting better. As you progress, no matter how slowly, you achieve higher and higher levels of well-being, strength, focus, and joy.
But take heed—if you stop your practice, you will not coast along; you’ll slide down. Our painful past habits, vices, egoism, and attachments will rise again. Until you find yourself truly liberated and no longer inhabiting a material body in this universe, you’re not out of the woods. Both sacred literature and the story of famous gurus in the last fifty years show this to be the case. No matter how advanced he or she is, how much charisma he or she has, or how much power he or she has gained over lifetimes of practice, if a yogi drops his or her guard, the old weeds of ignorance grow back.
My book, Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras REVOLUTION: How Timeless Yoga Wisdom Can Revolutionize Our Lives Today is now available here.