This month, we will be discussing how to stay grounded/centered in our mind-body (tannirodhaḥ) (YS I, 13-16) and what that transformative process looks like over time (YS I, 17-18).
Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra-s (YS) I-13
Tatra sthitau yatno’byāsaḥ There (tatra) in that centred and grounded state (reached in YS I-12 = tannirodhaḥ), we must practice (abyasaḥ) with constant effort (yatno) to stabilize it (sthitau).
Stay on it – Keep Practicing! Patanjali warns us that the benefits of our Yoga practice cannot be maintained without constant vigilance. It is human nature to take our healthy balanced state of mind-body for granted after we have been practicing a while. We start to lose the motivation to practice when things are going well.
Indulgence Rules When I started practicing Yoga daily in 1995, my neck and back would start to hurt again if I didn’t practice for even a day. Pain was a big motivator to get me to the mat every day. Now I have days and weeks when my body and mind feels great, even with my severe arthritis in my neck and my history of anxiety-depression. Why should I practice when I feel so good? I have to remind myself that if I don’t continue to practice, I will lose the benefits. I will regress and not progress.
As one of my Capilano University Yoga students told me today, “I almost didn’t make it to class again today. I have so much work to get done. Each week is the same. But after I come to class, I remember how good I feel and how much more efficient and focussed I will be all afternoon. Why do I always forget?”
How can I Strengthen my Yoga Practice?
Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra-s (YS) I-14 Sa tu dīrghakāla nairantarya satkāra ādarā āsevito dṛdhabhumiḥ
And (tu) that (sa) abhyāsa (practice - YS I-13) only gains a strong (dṛdha) foundation (bhumiḥ) when it embraces (āsevito) these four qualities:
• Dīrgha (long) kāla (time) We need to practice over a long period of time. It can take years to get a strong practice established. Now in about 5-15 minutes, I can drop into a yogic state. It used to take 2 hours, 20 years ago! I hope one day I will be able to stay in it continuously!
• Nai (nothing) rantarya (in between) We need to practice without a break – every minute of the day. Ideally, practice is not limited to our mats. We are practicing being present both on and off the mat.
• Sat (truth) kāra (action = practice) We need to believe that in truth our committed practice will help us reach somewhere we have never reached before. Otherwise, where is the motivation to keep practicing?
• Ādarā We should adore (ādarā) our practice! We should enjoy it! This intrinsic motivation is key to finding the will to keep practicing.
Practicing Self-Care is a Yoga Practice Practicing Yoga is not just about doing postural, breathing, and meditation practices. It is also about developing more discernment in all aspects of our lives, so that we can identify which lifestyle practices bring us more Joy and less dis-ease.
For example, I generally eat very healthfully, watching food quality, amounts, and meal timings. When I am satisfied with my weight, energy levels, and health, it is easy to start indulging in poorer eating habits. How quickly we forget that we feel good today because of our disciplined self-care choices that have been keeping us healthy and happy!
Think about other lifestyle/self-care practices such as sleeping hours, exercise routines, work-life balance, and time for social support (see Tools of Support, October 20th). How can these practices be strengthened and stabilized to promote more Joy and less dis-ease?
Yoga Sutra Question How can I make my Yoga and other self-care practices stable and strong? Which of the four strengthening qualities can I implement right now?