Sometime I have yoga students asking why they can’t advance faster in mastering a certain posture, relying on the yoga class to quickly get rid of all types of stress and worries, aiming to find the perfect balance in life through yoga. And the good news is all that can happen… with some effort!
Many times those students are the ones attending the yoga class once a week. While that timing is definitely good in creating a contact with the inner self, in getting some awareness about body, mind and emotions, in finding a balance, I believe that just a single class per week cannot be seen as a panacea, a remedy to all difficulties… though it is much better than doing nothing at all!
Having that in mind, this morning I was reading the Hatha Yoga Pradipika (one of the most important text of Hatha Yoga) and was caught by the following 2 slokas (Sanskrit verses), which can be summarized as the DO’s and the DON’Ts to attain success in Yoga. Let me share them, as a reminder to myself and yourself:
“Enthusiasm, perseverance, courage, right knowledge, unshakeable faith (in the words of the Guru) and avoiding contact with common people are the six (factors) which bring success in Yoga” – HYP 1.16
1 – Enthusiasm, or positive attitude, allows us to keep up the energy we need to keep going on our path. As such, let’s remind ourselves constantly about why we do yoga;
2 – Perseverance, patience, determination… all factors allowing us to keep up a regular practice. And I love the ‘Bihar School of Yoga’ commentary on this: ‘No matter what happens externally – rain, hail or shine – your sadhana (practice) must be done regularly. … It may take only one more month or it may take a whole lifetime. Everybody evolves at a different rate, so it is useless to compare yourselves with others’;
3 – Right knowledge or ability to discriminate about what is conducive to our spiritual growth, leaving behind what is not;
4 – Courage is required to face all those challenges in life, external as well as internal, trying to keep us away from practice;
5 – Faith in the Guru and the ultimate truth, faith in the fact we can achieve our aim;
6 – Avoiding mixing with those people who can have a negative influence on us, taking us away from the path.
“Overeating, exertion, too much talking, strict adherence to rules, contact with common people and unsteadiness are the six (causes) which bring failure in Yoga” – HYP 1.15
1 – Overeating slows down our both physical and mental activities, causing lethargy and dullness. I remember Sharath in his conferences on Sundays in Mysore reminding us very often that only ½ stomach should be filled with food, ¼ should be filled with water while ¼ should be left to air;
2 – Exertion, too much physical or mental efforts, reduce our level of energy. Than, it becomes tough even to just sit and stay. Have you ever experienced how difficult is to go through practice when you’re tired?
3 – Too much talking… it is a waste of time and a distraction;
4 – Too many contacts with people who do not share the same path, as they can be of distraction or exert a negative influence;
5 – Unsteadiness, as opposite to perseverance, determination, consistency we saw above;
6 – And finally, Strict adherence to rules. Yes, as yoga practitioners we should avoid following rules for the sake of following rules. Again, according to Bihar School of Yoga commentary: ‘Adhering to rules makes one narrow-minded. Yoga is meant to expand the consciousness, not to limit it’. Hence, let’s take all this Do’s and Dont’s as per what they really are, guidelines to help us keeping the track, to further grow in our practice, and always know when it is the right time to make an exception!
So, to all yoga practitioners who want to advance in the practice: ask yourself how are you doing on all these different aspects, what is your behaviour and undergo the changes you think are beneficial to you and your practice… even a small one, today!