Tuesday, June 26, 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 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 but even 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. Now that doesn’t say whether you speak lie with good intention or bad. Lie is evil, that’s it!
  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.
  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.

This summarizes the most 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 then that remains on the plane of the body. And we know that to achieve perfect health, one should be harmonious in body, mind, and spirit.

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!

Spirituality is Irrespective of Age!

Many people have this thought close to their heart that once we reach the retirement age; we will start our spiritual pursuit. Spirituality is many times misinterpreted as some work that is to be done in order to attain the mukti. Well, but most saints advice us that it is not the work to be done but an inner attitude that needs to be cultivated if you want to have a life devoid of egoistic pursuits.

Spirituality is one’s nature, many times in born or sometimes cultivated in the right direction with the advice of some eminent gurus. It is the selfless yet self-improving way of life that will take you to your destination- that is- Absolute Contentment!

Many times we find people who pursue spiritual or adhyatmik things frown about people who pursue prapanchik (day to day) chores and run behind so many different pursuits to feel the happiness. But what they fail to understand is that we all are behind achieving happiness and only those who are really interested in spirituality and Godly pursuits, can hope to understand one day that what we were after was this ultimate wisdom! Even the people who try to run in different directions are behind this ultimate aim, however they lack the proper direction. Every one of us in some or the other birth must come close to this truth that the spiritual purpose is the highest purpose and only that can lead us on the path of ultimate happiness.

And as the subject matter of this post, it is irrespective of age. Rather, earlier you being, sooner you reach your destination or at least walk towards it. Young age is the right age also as regards the heath aspect. Healthier you are, more dedicated your adhyatmik pursuits can be. Unhealthy mind and body can rarely cope up with the spiritual goals. Rather it can be said that spirituality or adhyatma is not the journey. It is the final destination we all need to reach. It is our “being”. So, if you start developing interest in such pursuits at young age, in the old age, you obviously attain to much tolerance towards your bodily woes too. Spirituality is one of the best tools to keep your body and mind under control while surrendering completely to your God! It is the best way to find the inner peace that all are after.

Even those who deny the presence of God will agree to the fact that they are searching for real happiness or real tranquility. Our saints tell us that unless we travel the path of adhyatma and spirituality, it is impossible to attain the tranquility or happiness that will never vanish! 

Work for the sake of work!

How liberating this idea is! We all work for different purposes. But when we do work to serve a purpose, are we doing it happily? We often find ourselves getting tired or crying for the burden our work causes us. Then why work at all? But as we know if we have come to this world, we have to work, irrespective of our desire. That is the Karma-Yog depicted by Shri Krishna in Bhagavad Geeta. Well, “Irrespective of our desire” when taken in positive spirit, we know that it is not our will but Lord’s will to make us work. If it is His will, then why bother for results? If He is behind us for all the time, why should we seek burden of the work?

Working incessantly is the karma of any living being. Every moment of our life, we are working. It is our ego that makes us vulnerable. It is our selfishness that brings misery. It is our attachment to the work that makes us feel tired.

Swami Vivekananda says, even if you are working for others, don’t feel that you are “helping” them! You are not. Nobody is waiting or begging to you to help them. Even if you will not, the people around will do their work and the world will run unabated. Who are you to help them? If at all you are helping them, thank them that they have given you the opportunity to acquire good karma points! If helping others breeds the ego in you, you are running a downhill path in your spiritual path. We must know that every small act is governed by the eternal principle in nature, which we call God.

Work for the sake of work is something we have to practice. Work incessantly, set goals too. But do not strive overboard for the results. Working is in our hands; not the result! This liberates us. This makes us a free being dwelling in this temporary body, which can perish anytime.