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The Purpose of Daily Practice (Sadhana)


Nowadays, many people are turning to yoga for its health benefits.

This is fortunate — the fact that yoga is gaining so much exposure — but the truth is that this ancient practice is meant for far more than a limber body and calm mind.

The ‘lower’ limbs of yoga refer to the things we do with our bodies to create a positive impact on our life energies. This includes asana, pranayama, and to some extent pratyahara, as well as the ‘guidelines’ for healthy living (the yamas and niyamas). I’m talking about the stretching and posture training (asana) that is so common in Westernized yoga, and the rapidly growing and ever-popular practice of Breathwork (pranayama).

The only thing is that these practices are often divorced from their bigger scope and purpose, which ultimately are designed as part of a comprehensive system meant to lead the aspirant into realizing the goal of human existence. These practices are not meant for achieving merely a healthy body or other material or worldly success; they are meant to help one to fulfill their highest potential, to become liberated before death... and to experience the True Self. Something all the great sages of so many traditions have spoken of.

To experience the True Self.... what does that even mean for the lay person? This talk of enlightenment and self-realization often has little value to most people. Most people, most of the time, are just seeking things that are going to help them feel a little better and go about their lives with some additional peace and joy available to them. Some of us maybe even have noble & altruistic aspirations, such as wanting to improve our health and mindset so that we can of better service to the world. This is all fine and good, and sometimes these motives can inspire us to practice the ancient methods that have been passed to us by the yogis. But it must be remembered that the ultimate purpose of these practices is for far more than even our highest aspirations. Remembering the ultimate helps understand what we are actually doing when we practice yoga and, I believe, can help us get an even better overall effect from this technology. Let’s look at why.

The real intent of this post is not to give an exposition on the goal of yoga, necessarily, but to actually help paint a clearer picture to the aspirant as to the real WHY behind daily practice. Because I believe once an individual makes the necessary internal shift to accept daily practice (sadhana) as part of their existence, their soul takes on a completely different trajectory. And in the coming paragraphs I intend to explore why.

So, WHY accept a daily practice, a Sadhana? Well, the first and most obvious point of daily practice is that it is DAILY. It becomes a part of your life, a part of who you are. Why this is important is that as soon as you begin to truly prioritize yourself in this way, the Universe itself starts to bend itself around your divine aspiration instead of you being in a tug-of-war with the Universe. If there is one thing I’ve learned it’s that life responds to actions, and your action to sit down and practice your yoga “in here” — your asana, pranayama, meditation, and chanting — before you engage with the world “out there” has just create a ripple across the fabric of space. Instead of plugging yourself INTO the matrix and feeding

your energy right back into all the habitual and conditioned experiences that are ruts for the wagon wheels of your mind, you unplug from all these repetitive matrix-based options and submerge yourself into the ocean of your being. Whether you do this through the asana, pranayama, mantra Sadhana or a combination is not as important as the fact that you are making the intent and effort to peel yourself away from the conditioned mind and put yourself through a spiritual process through which you can willfully and voluntarily alter your chemistry and neurobiology to produce a different outcome in life (when you get up and go about your business).

The difference a daily practice makes is that you create the change in your bodymind system BEFORE the habits and conditions cause us to repeat the past. After all, yoga is about becoming free. That doesn’t necessarily mean it happens all at once. It means we create subtle internal shifts inside of ourselves, first thing in the morning, so that when we go about our day, those internal shifts ripple into all of our actions and behaviors.

This is huge if we really consider it. Most people want to change certain things about themselves, but they don’t have enough shakti (the yogis use the word “prana” to describe shakti-in-action), to produce a different result. What happens is we find ourselves treating the same miserable mistake, caught in the same

loops of thought or feeling or emotion, and wrestle with a deeper truth within us that won’t let up it’s pressure. Many people, unfortunately, end up burying this deep inner truth as they cover it up with food, sex, drugs, or even different forms of so-called “spirituality” which all serve to distract themselves from their deepest inner knowing. The intellect can just as easily calcify and obstruct the heart. This is why we must be extremely discerning with our spirituality. There is a difference between reading something and knowing it intellectually and putting it into action in our lives and embodying it. Hence, daily practice!

Yes, the daily practice will for sure help us slowly embody the spirit truths to an extent where there is no longer a need for over-inflating our lives with the (often) unnecessary “spiritual materialism”. With a daily practice (sadhana) — that is, a committed and nonnegotiable attempt to align one’s being first thing in the morning, before the “official” day begins — we find less and less interest in the countless shiny objects that are out there that keep us in the pretense that we know something. Fill in the blank here. Please do not receive this as an affront to the shiny objects. I am merely pointing out that as humans, our minds love to attach themselves to objects. We love to make ourselves believe that we know things. Religion became an organization of power because humans became so overly intelectual that they lost their touch with the Earth and with the instrinsic wisdom of their bodies. Daily practice helps the individual plug back INTO a rhythm (it is daily!) and back into the currents of their own life-energies. That is the purpose of asana and pranayama. We become familiar with how our body and breath live in space, and therefore we become aware of how we ARE and operate. A seemingly lost art... lost only because we’ve become so stuck in our minds, in the world of conceptualization, and thus distanced from the very thing we all want which is right in front of us in the immediacy of each moment. LIFE — it’s happening right now... but until we can plug fully into the moment, through our bodies, our minds and energy remain scattered and looking for something else.

Which is the last point I’ll make. Daily practice, if designed well, STOPS the incessant “looking for something else” and puts us right on our ass, where we belong — confronting the very thing that has caused us to run away from the moment in the first place. The Sadhana is an extremely effective piece of technology at holding us accountable to face ourselves. To face where we have distracted, where we have lost ourselves, where we are dissociated, where we are wounded... it brings us face to face with all our excuses, all of our disempowerments, and all of the ways in which we simply Are. Not. Here.

Daily practice becomes the true temple of presence that we construct carefully over time. We apply our techniques diligently and with utmost intention and love as we realize the true goal that is at stake. Understanding this is the key to our liberation, the key to our healing. We commit and we don’t look back. We put ourselves in our own cage, with the tigers of our demons, and throw away key. Over time, with devotion, with courage, with fearless... we awaken these very qualities further and bring them forth into their embodiment. Eventually we realize that this “cage of daily practice” is actually the ticket to our freedom... as we realize that, before we commit at such a deep level, we are actually in an entirely different cage. The cage of an untrained mind. The cage of unresolved trauma from our past . And our heart is locked up in these cages, preventing it from being truly free.

Daily practice is not something that you can be talked into. It’s something you must decide for yourself. It is not something you undertake for a time until you feel a little better. It’s a life-long commitment and it’s done in silence, in that special corner in our home, with your altar and a few sacred objects that remind you of what you’re doing it for. This is not for “manifesting”. It’s not to help you become necessarily ‘better’ at anything. Its not a self-improvement device. Your Sadhana is there to help to come face to face with Reality so that you can stop pretending that you have anything figured out, so that you can drop the pretenses, and that you can return to your natural and authentic state of being. Dropping the attachments. Desireless. Free. Unburdened by a mind that ‘knows’. Fully embodied with a heart that has no walls. The True Self — who you are before you think you are anything else.

This is the real purpose of yoga Sadhana. My wish is that you will come to discover the impossible-to-describe value of what I am describing here in your way and time.

Reclaim your power from the world. It’s a possibility for us all... you can do it.

With love and prana,

Grant Ifflander

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