The goal of Yoga is not easy to attain. It requires dedication, resolve, and perseverance to master the mind.
Strength is a foundation of all vows and commitments and is needed for success in any significant undertaking.
Whenever we make resolutions, it seems we are tested. Temptations, distractions, and old habits spring up from every side. We need to find the inner strength to persevere and to discover ways to succeed. If we pass the tests, we will be living heroic lives, demonstrating strength and integrity in our undertakings.
Strength is also what sees us through the dry periods of our practices. It is easy to meditate, pray and do pranayama when sweet benefits are experienced. But what keeps us going when we pray and feel no one is listening or meditate and spend the time half asleep or wondering what we should eat for breakfast?
Every seeker goes through difficult times. What once seemed rational now seems foolish. "Why should I be nonattached? I don't seem to be getting any benefits or having any fun. And why should I spend a couple of hours a day meditating? I seem to be missing out on a lot of enjoyment in life."
In times of trials we continue simply because we said we would. Our practice is not based on how we feel but on adhering to principles. That is strength, and it is beautiful.
1.22. The time necessary for success also depends on whether the practice is mild, moderate, or intense.
The previous sutra spoke of the zeal of the practitioner. This sutra expands on the idea of the intensity, the number of practices performed and the degree to which they are integrated into daily life. The more practices that are incorporated into daily life, the sooner the influence of ignorance diminishes.
A mild practice describes on that lacks steady enthusiasm and is most likely irregular. For these students, practice is minimal and regarded as a necessary chore. Practitioners in the middle category usually find at least some time everyday to fit in Yoga practices. They enjoy benefits, but much of their practice remains disconnected from the rest of their lives. Zealous practitioners make sadhana their priority. They keep inspired and focused and look forward to periods of practice. They also tend to see every aspect of their lives as an opportunity for growth. For them, practice becomes a character trait.
Although success in Yoga requires full application of our resources, we should be on guard against fanaticism. Any practice or lifestyle that abandons balance and harmony can lead to lopsided development, rigidity of outlook, and interpersonal strife. Practice should be balanced by nonattachement.
There is lots to be learned from the above excerpts. I'd have to say when it comes to strength the practice has given me this in every possible way, not only physically, but mentally. For, it all begins in the mind. I love how Sri K. Pattabhi Jois would say, "body strong, mind weak!" in reference to those who may be struggling in practice. It is so true in many instances how really when our mind cracks we see it manifest in our daily practices. However, not only that, in essence we truly are strong, and staying steadfast with the qualities of dedication, resolve, and perseverance, much can be accomplished on a deep level.
There have been many times where I've had to question why do I get up so early to do this again and again. The mind, going the through the tapes of doubt and apathy. To then, do it anyway, and when done to know with utmost certainty why I do it. There has never been a regret, not one, when it comes to taking up the practice of Ashtanga yoga. If anything if has given more than I could have imagined. The days I have felt weak and out of touch have taught me just as much as the days when everything seemed to flow into a magical rhythm. Everyday is different, the outer energy shifts and changes. Can I tap into the changeless and timeless when all on the outside seems lost? A question. An important question to ponder.