Sadhana, literally translated as “a means to accomplish something” refers to a practice that will help one attain the ultimate expression of one’s life. According to Sadhguru, it can be anything; the way we eat or sit or breath… anything.
Martha Beck once said, “The way we do anything is the way we do everything.” Sadhana is a dedicated practice that enhances this. Most of the time this refers to a spiritual or religious practice, one where we usually ritualize an action and look for perfect execution. The lessons then come in the work to refine our actions. It’s a form of bondage that’s goal can be seen as liberation. In this way, Sadhana is a discipline and according to abhyasa, observation, and reflections, there is nothing easy about this idea.
The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali dedicate 1 of the 4 Padas to Sadhana. Sharath also refers to the challenge of this process. In his last lecture with us in India he joked about getting up at 3am to walk to the shala. He would bump into to his friends walking back from the bars at 3am and they would ask if he was going to another party.
Sadhana is hard because our brain feeds off of positive feedback and withdraws from negative feedback. Sometimes this can cause us to feel disconnected from our practice, and in those moments it’s hard to continue. Having a strong practice means not expecting results, and this can also be hard for the mind to understand. The short term gratifications are not present, and at the top of the mountain might be a trail with no end...
“It’s not the destination, it’s the journey.” For some this means no gold metal or job promotion but, like one of my favorite quotes by William Mastrosimone, “Winners forget they are in a race; they just love to run.” We need to engage in the practice purely for the joy of the practice. This does not mean everyday will feel like a good day. On the contrary. But like a good relationship, our love of that relationship can bring us back even when times are hard.
It’s important that as you engage your practice, you realize that it has to, to a large extent, suit you. While it should suit you it should also not cater to your fears. If you fall in love with the practice, whatever it is, stick with it and embrace it even through the hard times. You will have many. And that’s okay. In those hard times are the lessons of Yoga. Don’t give up. Your practice should challenge you and it should call out your fears and agitations. Otherwise they stay hidden and the more subtle expressions of our afflictions will be left unchecked.
Article by Sean Shelton @capturedconnections
Yoga Photography by Emily O'Brien @emily.obrien