Many of us approach yoga and meditation in a haphazard way, practicing only when it is convenient or desirable to us. While this approach is acceptable for a grihasta, or householder, it will be difficult to attain, or even taste, the unitive state of yoga without a more robust level of dedication, intention, and practice.
To truly deepen your yoga experience, start a sadhana—a personalized plan for accomplishing your spiritual goals. Starting a daily practice of yoga or meditation will be challenging, but the physical, mental, and emotional benefits will be profound and immediate.
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What’s a sadhana?
Sadhana is a means of accomplishing a goal through spiritual exertion. Traditionally, the goal of sadhana is lofty—finding enlightenment. However, a sadhana can also be used to accomplish smaller goals such as improving flexibility, mastering a challenging asana, or reducing life stressors. I recommend committing to a minimum of forty consecutive days for your first sadhana for the best results.
What are the benefits of practicing a sadhana?
1. Foundation & Growth
Even a short 10-minute daily practice will create a solid foundation for continued growth and expansion. Once you acclimate to your sadhana, you’ll soon discover you want to make more time for practice and will notice steady progression towards your goals.
2. Commitment & Inner Strength
Doing your sadhana every single day no matter what will strengthen your ability to commit to things in your life and create a well of deep inner-strength you can draw upon when faced with challenges and difficult tasks. By prioritizing your sadhana, you are giving your spiritual growth a huge boost of energy.
3. Discipline & Dedication
Your mind and ego will create all kinds of excuses to prevent you from doing your sadhana. However, practicing yoga or meditation every single day cultivates discipline and dedication, which in turn give you the strength to ignore the unhealthy and unhelpful thoughts of an ego-driven mind.
4. Evolution & Refinement
A daily sadhana is a small yet potent way to make sure that you are moving towards a better life every day. Each time you move through your daily practice you create a touchstone—or reference point—that you can use to measure your progress and spiritual development both on and off the yoga mat or meditation cushion.
5. Passion & Devotion
Yoga and meditation can create a positive feedback loop in your body, mind, and heart. When you repeatedly perform actions that you love, you cultivate even deeper passion and devotion. Passion and devotion are often the forces that drive us to persevere through challenging times.
6. Self-Observation & Witness Consciousness
As your sadhana develops and deepens, you will begin to cultivate stronger powers of self-observation and “witness consciousness”—the ability to step back and transcend the ego, or ahamkara. Stepping out of egoic thinking allows you to make decisions following your wiser, more powerful bodhi mind. Strengthening your self-observation and witness consciousness skills will also allow you to further explore the inner workings of the mind and to identify and eliminate negative thoughts.
Remember, a sadhana does not need to be fancy or difficult—it only requires that you pour your whole heart into your practice. Your sadhana should be challenging and engaging, but should also bring you joy, peace, and a sense of purpose.
Are you ready to start a sadhana and put your whole heart, soul, and mind into practicing yoga?