When all is said and done, the practical support yoga provides to transform one’s life is not so much about belief but practice.
When there is a balanced practice integrated into one’s life, one only has to stop practicing for a period of time to realize what is missing. This realization, of what is absent or broken when practice is abandoned, is perhaps the greatest evidence for the effectiveness of yoga.
Practice creates opportunities and solutions. Without practice, life remains enclosed and unresolved. In order to continue to practice, however, it is clear that an ongoing commitment to that practice is also needed. And in order to continue there needs to be sufficient trust in yoga’s cumulative effectiveness.
Over time the history of personal practice, the memory of years of practice, becomes embodied in our experience. We come to recognize the clarity when our lives and practice are in tune, and we can draw on this to renew and recommit to our practice. These memories, re inspire us and become important when returning to practice.
On the other hand, as many practitioners in the Satyananda tradition of yoga around the world have found, it is also helpful to set some kind of sankalpa, a goal that takes us beyond where we are now. The shape of this sankalpa has the capacity to reciprocally shape us and our practice.
The sankalpa provides a potential focus and way through, like a light that illuminates the road at night.
It is clarity itself, single minded one pointedness, that results from such a deep and habitual sankalpa, which opens the way as much as the object of that intention.
When our mind reaches out into, or pulls away from, the different currents of life in which it is enmeshed we are immediately on uncertain ground. This may not be a bad thing in itself, as the traps of rigidity potentially fall away, and reflection on what is truly important takes place. With the development of viveka (discernment), growing wisdom and vairagya (non attachment) as our driver, clarity of thought and practice is the vehicle that allows the driver to see a way forward.
Personal practice is an investigation, perhaps the ultimate research project, where we have easy access to the results, and, if we are reflective, gives rapid feedback highlighting what does or doesn’t work. Of potential great assistance is the practice of the yoga of misadventure, the yoga of learning from our mistakes. Whatever is found to not work through practice is something to be treasured, as practice through experience evolves into a lifestyle that has effectiveness, balance and direction.
The Satyananda system of yoga has been developed from a tradition going back thousands of years, accommodating the insights of teachers and practitioners across this time. It is reflected in the Shanti mantra that begins “Om namo brahma dibyo…”, and in which these sources of inspiration are listed, including inspirational leaders, scholars and texts.
Our tradition has continued to be shaped by the lives and vision of Swami Sivananda, Swami Satyananda and Swami Niranjanananda, and the thousands of sannyasins who have contributed their lives to the development of this amazing flexible and comprehensive complete system of practice. This system provides ever richer tools within it, no matter what our personality and lifestyle; no matter what our belief. At whatever stage in life we are at, there is always a combination of practices suited to our needs, whether the needs are physical, energetic, psychological, philosophical, or spiritual.
Yoga is an ancient system of philosophy, lifestyle and techniques, by which we evolve the whole person, the physical, the vitality, the mind and emotions, the wisdom and psychic qualities, our ethics and relationships, and the realization of our spiritual reality.
Whatever our challenge or difficulty, the answer to our question is always to be found in practice.
Trust comes through practice, commitment comes through practice, and the destination is ultimately reached, only through practice.
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Rocklyn Yoga Ashram, operated by Yoga Association of Victoria Inc. as an autonomous entity,
remains committed to the tradition of Satyananda Yoga and continues the teachings under
the banner of Satyananda Yoga by arrangement with the IYFM.