Practice makes perfect, right? But what if perfection should not even be part of the equation when it comes to your yoga practice?
In the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, Svatmarama wrote, “Constant practice alone is the secret of success.” Sometimes the process is more valuable that the outcome. Many people value goals more than what it takes to achieve them, specifically work and diligence.
Yoga is not a goal-oriented activity. It is an ongoing practice. Through yoga, you are engaging meaningfully and productively with yourself.
Actions Speak Louder than Words
Svatmarama also wrote, “Anyone who practices can obtain success in yoga but not one who is lazy." Similarly, a former colleague shared a wise nugget of advice: Do it now. This was his motto to avoid procrastination and be as successful as possible.
Sometimes we have a tendency to talk about things rather than actually doing them. Focusing on the process makes us realize a simple truth: you can't even begin to accomplish a goal without taking action.
Yoga requires self-discipline and consistent action. Regardless of your chosen path, you need to practice — if not daily, then at least consistently. You need to do the work to yield the result.
This is why karma yoga is such a powerful practice. It puts service at the forefront with no attachment to the fruits of labour.
Theory versus Practice
According to Sri K Pattabhi Jois, father of Ashtanga, “Yoga is 99% practice and 1% theory.” The application of theory, or in some cases the reworking of theory, brings you into the present instead of entertaining what if's and what could be's.
Yoga is a system, a science. Just like a scientist in a laboratory with his or her hypotheses, the yogi "experiments." The only difference is that the yogi’s experiments involve asana.
The Practice of Asana
If you consistently practice a posture, you are bound to get better at manifesting it. If you consistently neglect one posture in particular, such as full locust or backbends, you deprive yourself of that learning opportunity. Acquiring new knowledge by working intimately with these postures will help you discover more about them.
Through direct experience, you observe and understand asana in a different way than from just reading from a book. You feel subtleties in your own body and may even develop new strategies or techniques.
You not only practice the pose but also the techniques of being in the pose. You become better at being still, mindful and present.
Practice Equals Success
The beautiful thing about a yoga practice is that its effects have the potential to permeate into all parts of your life. The deeper you practice, the greater your opportunity of becoming a successful human being.
Yoga brings you back to your natural state, one of bliss and pure consciousness. Although you are already a perfect, divine being, your yoga practice helps you to remember this, so you are not just working painstakingly toward an external, imposed goal of perfection.
Through diligent practice, you work to find your way back to yourself. This is true success!
Lisa Nicole Tai is a Yoga Teacher, Thai Massage Practitioner, Holistic Nutritionist, Writer, and Spoken Word Poet. She believes that by combining and applying the healing and creative arts to her life, she will find fulfillment and contribute to that of others.