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Abhyasa and the Practice of Yoga - Creating a New Reality Through Your Practice
"Practice (abhyasa) is a dedicated, unswerving, constant, and vigilant search into a chosen subject, pursued against all odds in the face of repeated failures, for indefinitely long periods of time." ~BKS Iyengar
Last night at yoga class, we reflected on this profound quote from one of the greatest yoga teachers. Even today, as I read it again and again, I was amazed at the depth and the wisdom contained in such a succinct and beautiful way. Here are some reflections on the profound meanings of this quote.
"Practice (abhyasa) is a dedicated, unswerving, constant, and vigilant search . . . "
Practice is a search, a dedicated, unswerving, constant and vigilant search, Mr. Iyengar states. ‘Practice’ to each of us may represent many things not specifically related to yoga. We practice controlling our emotions and desires. We practice our work. We practice our roles within our lives. We practice daily toward becoming more proficient at everything we do.
If we are dedicated to our practice, we search it out in a diligent way to uncover our deepest understanding. As we diligently search out our yoga through practice, we actually learn to understand ourselves on a much deeper level. Through a diligent yoga practice we learn to let go of the things that do not serve us well. We also learn to embrace our own unique beauty and the beauty of others.
"into a chosen subject"
We choose the focus of our practice. I have always believed that wherever we are - right now - in our lives, we've made the choices that brought us here. Sometimes the philosophy of choice brings tears of pain and regret when we connect our reality with our choices. All is not within our control but our choices remain completely our own.
Perhaps we have fallen victim or prey to someone else's bad choices; yet our future remains truly unwritten. When we choose, we write a new reality for ourselves and all of those, who surround us. Our goals become our future. Our choices - right now - matter very much. We must choose wisely the pursuits which use up much of our valuable and finite energies.
"pursued against all odds in the face of repeated failures"
Pursuit of a goal requires full and total dedication. When we practice yoga, we are pursuing a dream for ourselves that our bodies will be stronger and more open.
Dedicating ourselves completely to full spinal opening in Urdhva Dhanurasana (backbend) may takes years of practice. We will fail over and over again before we achieve even a semblance of the pose. Our spine may have lost most of its deeper movement. We may be given advice that we are "too stiff" to achieve backbend, or that we are out of our minds to even attempt the pose. If we are to truly realize our goal, though, we must disregard the negativity and continue in our practice.
"for indefinitely long periods of time"
We must pursue yoga with a passion that does not fade with time. With full and total dedication we continue onward in the face of failure for as long as the pose requires. We cannot give up in the middle of the battle or we may lose our desire to practice at all. We refocus and change our strategy but we do not give up. We continue onward with the steady focus of realizing our goals which are a reflection of our deepest intentions.
Learn to fully embrace the wisdom of Mr. Iyengar, and proceed with practice, even when it is difficult or challenging. Pursue and realize your goals for achieving a better body through the amazing journey of yoga.
Susan Grossman is a yoga teacher based in Warsaw, Indiana. She is a contributing author for three ebooks, “Get Fit for Your Pregnancy: Simple Exercises to Look Great & Feel Energized Through Your Pregnancy,” “Body Sculpting Exercise for Women Over 40,” and “Fat Blasting for a Shapely Butt and Toned Thighs.” She teaches weekly yoga classes at her studio where she works with many individuals in the beginning stages of their yoga journey, as well as, individuals who are over seventy years of age with mild to moderate health considerations. Susan also instructs kettlebell classes. For more information go to: www.WarsawsSecret.com