Inside Yoga 267 (7/5/2019)
WE are often told things take time, to which we nod knowingly but then we carry on being impatient and hurried. The original yoga sutras by Patanjali are clear: we need to maintain a yoga practice over time to perfect it. None of the instant guarantees we see advertised in our modern impatient world, but a patient perseverance is what we need to cultivate if we are going to get anything of what we seek.
In Patanjali’s yoga sutras, written more than four thousand years ago, the question of “how do we arrive at a state of yoga?” is answered with the short pithy sentence, “The mind can reach the state of yoga through practice and detachment,” according to TKV Desikachar’s commentary. (Sutra 1.12, in his book called The Heart of Yoga). The opening lines of the yoga sutras concentrate on warning us that our goals we set will take time, effort and perseverance. It is like a caveat warning us that yoga will help us, but with certain conditions attached.
The next two lines say: “Practice is basically the correct effort required to move toward, reach, and maintain the state of yoga.” (Sutra 1.13)
And the next: “It is only when the correct practice is followed for a long time, without interruptions and with a quality of positive attitude and eagerness, that it can succeed.” (Sutra 1.14)
Desikachar explains in his commentary about these last two lines, that “even though the techniques are involved are not specified here, the … sutras indicate their quality… The practice chosen must be correctly learned from and guided by a competent teacher… There will always be a tendency to start practice with enthusiasm and energy, and a desire for sudden results.
“But continuing pressures of everyday life and enormous resistance of the mind encourages us to succumb to human weaknesses. All this is understandable, we all have these tendencies. This sutra (1.14) emphasises the need to approach practice soberly with a positive, self-disciplined attitude and with a long-term view towards eventual success.”
His commentary acknowledges the likelihood of doubts and uncertainty whether yoga practice helps, but is equally clear that if we trust the process and give it time, the practice will help and do us good, but equally important, is that benefits we seek are derived through practice, perseverance and patience.
Some things might change through time but the message that what we seek needs effort, patience, perseverance and practice is relevant today as it was thousands of years ago.
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