Thoughts on Practice

“First, in order to become unshakable, practice must be performed nairantarya, without interruption.  One cannot take breaks from one’s practice whenever one feels like it or the mind dictates and expect to attain the goal of yoga, which is precisely to quell such whimsical vrttis.  Second, one’s practice must continue dirgha-kala, for a long time.  One cannot attain success in a few months or even after many years of practice unless one is exceptionally dedicated.  Indeed, the Gita speaks of the yogi maintaining the yatna, effort [of Sutra 1.13] for many births:  ‘Through effort and restraint, cleansed of all impurities, the yogi who has cultivated perfection over several lives, eventually attains the supreme destination’ (VI.45).  Practice is at the very least a lifelong commitment, to be undertaken.  Patanjali goes on to say, satkara-asevitah, with respect and devotion.  One is, after all, pursuing the ultimate goal of life — realization of the innermost self — and cannot expect to attain this in a halfhearted or frivolous fashion, or in a random matter.”

Edwin Bryant, The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, p. 50