Nirodhaḥ Yoga Blog
Practice is the most important factor in Yoga.
- Swami Satchidananda
This blog post is part of our Yoga Sutras series.
Want to start at the beginning?
Sutra 1.14 - स तु दीर्घकाल नैरन्तर्य सत्कारा असेवितो दृढभूमिः -
Sa Tu Dīrghakāla Nairantarya Satkāra-ādara-āsevito Dr̥ḍhabhūmiḥ
Practice Becomes Firmly Grounded by Patience, Devotion, and Faith
From Sutras 1.13-1.20, Patanjali outlines exactly what it means to accomplish what we studied last month in Sutra 1.12. As a reminder, Yoga Sutra 1.12 tells us that by practice and detachment, we will reach the goal of yoga.
Sutras 1.13 and 1.14 discuss what it means to practice. Practice of yoga is defined as continuous effort to calm the fluctuations of our mind, as explained in Yoga Sutra 1.2.
Sutras 1.15 and 1.16 describe what non-attachment is. It is a state of renunciation that is achieved through the application of our willpower. (Iyengar, 65) Ultimate renunciation occurs when we are no longer affected by the qualities of nature, which are known as the three gunas in Vedic philosophy. In other words, “one is no longer controlled by the dramas of the world.” (Shoshoni, 9)
And Sutras 1.17 through 1.20 talk about events that may happen when a person learns to practice with detachment. First, this practitioner will acquire vitarka, which is the analytical study of oneself and inference by reasoning.
Next, they will achieve insight, which is called vicara. Vicara is gained through meditation and is beyond logic. Then, this practitioner will experience a state of bliss or elation, called ananda.
Finally, an accomplished yogi will understand the essential nature of the universe and of themself, which is that “we are all one,” as my great teacher, Sonia Sumar reminds me time and time again.
Mukunda Stiles explains that in this stage, “everything and everyone is experienced as one’s own True Self.” (Stiles, 5) This understanding is called asmitarupa. Each of these stages are levels of samadhi, which is the state of “being absorbed in spirit.” (Stiles, 2)
During the preceding steps, the practitioner’s mind may produce thoughts during meditation. These are latent impressions of previous thoughts, called samskaras, which are like dormant seeds. Normally, these impressions lay inert but occasionally the samskaras rise and interrupt the practitioner’s flow of pure meditation. Then the practitioner must weed these out again.
At this point, the practitioner may become a videha, which is a being who has merged with nature and is free of the inconveniences of a corporal body. (Satchidananda, 61)
Sutra 1.20, in particular, has guidance to lead us through the challenging times we face in the midst of our practice. If we use faith and one-pointed effort, we will remember our true identity, which is the essential oneness of us all. This state is natural and “our true condition.” (Shoshoni, 10)
My favorite Sutra in this segment and one of the most memorable in the entire Yoga Sutras of Patanjali is 1.14. Sutra 1.14 clearly delineates how to achieve the goal of yoga: with patience, devotion and faith.
We use patience by practicing for a long time.
We are devoted by practicing without break.
We have faith by practicing with our whole heart.
In the next Sutra, Patanjali answers how long it takes to achieve the ultimate goal of yoga, which is complete liberation.
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Have you had any experiences mastering a skill? How have you applied patience, devotion and faith in the pursuit of this mastery? How do these experiences inform your pursuit of yoga?
Just some thoughts about yoga as I go...
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