Monday, April 2, 2012

What Should We Do To Succeed (or Not Fail) in Our Yoga Practice?

Intriguing subject indeed!

Well, I am thinking of this subject to write upon since really long. But perhaps, recently I found quite good (and authentic) resources that could tell me the exact reasons why one fails in yoga. Yes I know that the topic says about how to succeed but unless we know why we fail, we will not be able to know how to succeed. Therefore I wished to share this post with my readers! Because I think this is one of the nagging questions many of us often face and try solving it as per our capabilities.

Many of my patients also ask me this question and therefore this post.

Foremost thing about YOGA that we don’t know is its real meaning. Or we perhaps know but never put it into the practice. The real meaning of “YOGA” or “YOG” is being in unison with your "True Self" through control of mind and its expressions. “Yogah Chitta-vritti nirodhah”, says Patanjali. What does it mean?

It means that unless we acquire good control over our thinking process and its various avenues, we really do not make ideal candidates to perform yoga. Yoga is more a science of mind or perhaps soul than mere body. Therefore, when we reduce it mere to the level of body and perform the bodily movements or postures included in it, we fail to perceive its actual benefit. That does not belittle the importance of devised postures or asanas included in yoga. They are no doubt important and also they are likely to inflict positive action on your mind and spirit.

That is why it is always advised by yoga masters to perform it only when you are at peace with yourself. Do we really do that? We want to rush to our office or work and we perform yoga just as a routine chore to be finished before we enter the whirlwind called work or so we suppose work as! Your body and mind (spirit) should be perfectly in sync with each other when you perform any of the yoga exercises. We have reduced yoga to a mass movement that can be done anywhere, any time, and in any mental condition. No! This way it will not help us.

Therefore, the foremost point we should remember if we want yoga to work for us, we should restrain our mind and let our thoughts and action work in unison.

However, according to some ancient scriptures that depict yoga scrupulously, this is not enough. Rather they give some other points that are nothing but mere extensions of the above mentioned points, which will help us to reap the highest benefit from yoga.

  1. Do not lie- As we saw above, restraining our thoughts and actions! By doing it, we should or we can avoid the temptations of telling lies. If we delve deep, we understand how often we speak lie and that too without any positive intentions. It becomes a second nature for some. This habit has to be curbed if you want to control your chitta!
  2. Do not hurt anyone- The practitioner of yoga should have clean thought process and should be compassionate at heart. Hurting others, mere thinking to hurt others or even just a thought of ill about others is bad for yourself! It never allows you to be at peace with yourself and you cannot master yoga. More importantly, not hurting anyone by your words is imperative for your mental and emotional peace. And unless you are at peace with yourself, your yoga practice will become merely a manual labour.
  3. Do not run after others’ money- Yes, our ancient gurus were wise enough. They knew that unless one conquers the thought of money-mindedness, they cannot be unattached in their day to day chores and non-attachment is the basic motive behind yoga. Therefore, those who constantly think about others’ money and how to get hold of it without much effort will never be able to learn yoga.
  4. Do not be a slave- This point is described in scriptures under the heading- Do Not Accept Gifts! The idea behind is that for a practitioner of yoga, it is necessary to maintain freedom of thoughts and actions. Only then he can master the intricacies of the science and reap the highest rewards. If he or she accepts gifts (or we can say-desires gifts), he or she becomes the slave of the person who gifts. And once the person becomes the slave, he or she cannot work for any higher purpose of existence and yoga is one of them. Therefore, maintain your harmonious living by staying away from bribes, unsolicited gifts, and even desire for such things.
  5. Maintain your eating minimal and hygeinic- It is said that today man is burdened by what he or she eats. One has to conquer his tongue in order to be detached from the outside world. That does not mean deprivation but it means judicial and rational eating habits. Excess or too less eating can lead to bodily imbalances and is to be curbed by a yoga practitioner. 
  6. Lead a simplistic life- Being straight forward and simple in life, where one flows with the flow is the crux of living a yogic life. More we acquire, more it becomes a burden to carry. Minimalistic approach in life is extremely rewarding. "Less is more" is the mantra of a yogi. Krishnamurti used to say, All the problems of life are the problems of harmony! It means, unless we are at peace with what we have, without any inner conflict whatsoever, we cannot be an ideal Yoga practitioner. 

This summarizes the basic necessities of achieving perfection in yoga. Certainly bodily yoga exercises (various postures and asanas) impart benefit to the performer even if he doesn’t follow the above points strictly. But the benefits then will remain on the plane of the body. To achieve perfect health, one should be harmonious in body, mind, and spirit and therefore, following the points above as much as we can only will add to the benefit and harmony will ensue! 

Good news is that scriptures give sure notation to the yoga performers that if you follow these points, stay away from bad company and do good deeds, you will seek maximum benefit from the yoga practice that will lead you towards the path of perfect tranquility!