The saying practice makes perfect could not hold more truth in the field of Yoga. Every day we practice we add a coin into our bank of kaivalia (ultimate liberation). Staying with this analogy, when we practice everyday, without breaks, it’s as if we are generating a percent increase in our deposits. Meaning for the same daily effort we are depositing more value. With that we generate momentum making practice much, much easier and just like how earth revolves around the sun. It begins to simply become a natural mechanism in life, it’s own momentum and gravity self perpetuates daily practice. In the vedic texts many specific sadhanas (spiritual practices) such as meditations, asanas & mudras are described to bring vibhuttis, siddhis or mystic powers when done continuously for a set amount of time.
That’s what we do on the mat, blanket, grass, chair and the occasional subway train. Which is generally described as Hatha Yoga, our sadhana, whatever it may be. We are generating an income. But Yoga does not stop there, in fact the Yoga Sutras of Patañjali focus more on what happens ‘off the mat’ then on the mat.
Now there’s what we do off the mat, which is the most important part. Raja Yoga, the Royal Path of Integration, the Yoga of Lifestyle. In this analogy it would be called the Yoga of Investment. Many times it’s not a question of having money or not having money, it’s what we do with the money that makes the impact on our lives. Before we had our daily practice, we had enough income to fulfill our daily requirements, eat, go to work, go to school, take care of kids, hang out with friends, sleep & dream. Many times we got home exhausted. Yet as some as you may have noticed after a while of spiritual practice you seem to have more virya, more potency, after a good practice your walking with your chest out, arms swinging, eyes shining and a pearly grin on your face. Now you’ve generated a good amount of income and naturally what comes to us when we make more money is the thought of “How am I going to spend it” and many times we go and spend it on what we like but then sometimes we end up burning ourselves out thinking oh with all this extra energy I can do more things! and we take up practice time with other activities. The Yoga Sutras of Patañjali is like an investment guide. It gives suggestions on how yogis can invest their spiritual income into pursuits and actions that bring more revenue, but most importantly keep us safe. Because with long and dedicated practice of Yoga, as Yogis we generate a considerate amount of power from nature by becoming more attuned with nature. With great power comes great responsibility. This is where the principals of a vegetarian based diet, the Yamas and Niyamas (personal and social observances), Pratyahara (sense withdrawal) & and the most important principal of Compassion-without compassion a yogi is granted nothing. All of these things, and many more are set in place so that we, our friends, our family and our community benefit from our practices.
So get on the mat, get a copy of the sutras, and start living your life as a yogi. Empowered, abundant, free, and full of love and compassion. Anyone can do it and your practice can be as simple or as complex as you wish. A yogi is simple one who lives their lives for the purpose of positivity, integration and evolution. Simply by making it your business to be kind, truthful, respectful and compassionate you are walking on the path of Yoga.
(Since there are many versions of the Sutras and not all of them are very good, I recommend Tom Egenes translations of the Sutras for a simple english translations of the sutras, and also Iyengar’s Light on Yoga Sutras for an exposition on the Yoga Sutras)