In the past few months I’ve received requests to mentor fellow yogis. It’s an
interesting request – one that I take to heart. It got me thinking about what I’ve
learned on my yoga journey and what advice will I offer those seeking guidance
on their path?
I feel that Yoga Sutra I.12 summarizes what I’ve learned really nicely.
Yoga Sutra I.12: Abhyasa vairaghyabhyam tan nirodhah
”To attain Yoga, the keys to practice are:
1. A consistent and whole-heartedly dedicated practice (abhyasa), and
2. Non-attachment to the results of the practice (vairaghyam).”
For those who are not familiar with texts like the Yoga Sutra, the word Sutra
means “thread” or “string” and describes what I think of as a seed. It is a
statement that when you dive in, has layers of meaning and an infinite potential
for powerful inner transformation. I love the Yoga Sutras and their multi-
dimensional complexity that simply grows and deepens with each reading and
Here’s how I unravel this thread:
Yoga is Love
Yoga typically translates to “union” or “yoke”, yet I believe it goes deeper than
that. To me Yoga is about, as Michael Stone describes, “intimate interconnection”
to recognize our innate wholeness – interconnection of my layers of being
(ie: loving myself), in my relationships (ie: loving others), into this amazing world
we inhabit (ie: loving the whole world and my role in it). If the practices you
undertake move you in a direction away from deeper love for yourself and others,
I question would that practice. The practice of Yoga as Love does not mean that
you won’t have arguments with your spouse/friends/partner/family or that you
cannot leave a relationship that isn’t working. It simply means that you start from
your heart and act from your heart to the best of your current abilities and
understanding in all you do. Intention setting is so important in a spiritual
practice – this means intending love <3 Get on your Mat (as often as possible) You will get from your practice what you put into your practice. Wholehearted dedication to the practice is paramount for results. As my teacher Vishva used to say "Keep continue"
nothing happens. So many people tell me they aren’t happy with their bodies,
minds, homes, jobs, lives – if we don’t do something about it, we continue down
the same path destined to the same things. As we practice, we open to change!
The further down the Yoga “rabbit hole” you go, eventually you will realize a few
things about practice:
1. Practice is more important than preference. You don’t practice according to
preference, you practice because the practice is what catalyzes the inner
transformation we seek in order to become more aware, peaceful, balanced,
joyful, real and grounded. Shri Pattabhi Jois is often quoted for saying
“Practice and all is coming”.
2. The days when you don’t want to practice are the days you need it the most.
When everything inside you screams no – get on your mat anyways. It typically
indicates that you are on the verge of a shift. As Denise once said, “I never
regret getting coming to class, I only regret not coming”. Denise, thank you for
continuing to inspire me <3 3. Getting on the mat does not mean asanas. It means engaging in any practice that lands you in the present moment so you can engage in love and reverence for all (being, places, things, etc). It can include asanas (postures), pranayama (expansion of life-force energy), dhyana (meditation **this practice is particularly important and i highly recommend it), mantra (sacred sounds), kriya (cleansing techniques), yama (coming back to our True Nature, or "S"elf), walking in nature - Yoga is different things to different people and our practices will be as unique as we are. 4. Dedication to the practice represents my dedication to myself - and YOU ARE WORTH IT! Yup, you are. We all have this drop of universal consciousness inside of us that deserves of our love, commitment, time, attention and energy. Nourishing this part of ourselves allows us to get closer and closer to our essence, our True Nature as vast expansive beings that are interconnected to everything and everyone. 5. Your life is not your own. Interestingly our lives belong to the universe for the greater good of the world. It is so important that we dive in and connect to our deepest Self so we can understand our purpose and fulfill it. In fulfilling this purpose we bring greater harmony to the world and everyone in it. Your purpose will involve something that you have a knack for. It's something that will give you energy and make you feel good and whole. It could be raising your children, gardening, playing golf or volunteering in the community. Everyone's purpose (dharma) is unique and important. As you continue getting on your mat yours will unfold and become clear to you - you will one day see that there is a void in the universe and that you are the person to fill it. I refer to this as "being the square peg that fits in the square hole". I feel it important to mention that your purpose will challenge you - it will create the opportunity for you to overcome your resistances and fears. I think we're getting the picture about why getting on the mat is so important. Learn to Let Go The more time and energy we put into something, often the higher the expectations become. In my experience, this inevitably leads to frustration and disappointment. One of the most challenging things to learn in Yoga/Life (to me, they are the same thing) is the practice of non-attachment. Non-attachment is not to be confused with indifference; it's not that we don't care. If anything, coming from a place of love we care deeply and greatly. However, more often than not things aren't about us, even if we are taking action and getting involved. We "get on our mats" and act, then we let go of the outcome needing to look or be a particular way. We let go and allow the universe to unfold as it will. Sometimes this works out as we had hoped, and sometimes it takes us for a loop. Either way, learning to let go is paramount to maintain sanity, health and ease in being. I read once that without both these keys to practice - consistent dedication and non-attachment - Yoga simply cannot work. If you aren't dedicated and consistent in your practice, nothing happens. If you cling to certain outcome, you will drive yourself mad. I love how all things Yoga end up being opposite sides of the same coin. Through dedicated consistent practice and non-attachment to the results of practice we are able to transcend this duality, and move to a whole other realm of understanding where I am certain this sutra means something completely different, even if at this time have no idea what that is. Enjoy the practice! Om Shantih and Prema (universal peace & love), m xo Mona L. Warner, ERYT500 Janati Yoga, RYS500