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Yoga Sutras for Modern Day Life: How To Get the Quickest Results in Yoga

Yoga Sutras of Patanjali 1:22-The time necessary for success depends on whether the practice is mild, medium or intense.

 

Defining the Sutra

Everyone can have success in yoga but the more intense the practice the faster the results. It is important to reiterate that Patanjali is referring to yoga as the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind .  He is not merely talking about yoga as a physical practice.

Many commentaries on the Sutras, allude to 9 levels of practice that are  not mentioned in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali but are mentioned in other texts and supposedly directly relate to this verse. I don’t think these 9 levels are necessary to understand the verse but they do give a little more depth to the text. I found this chart on Swamij.com.  Keep in mind that I have not verified the validity of this chart but it seems to be on par with the bits and pieces I have seen on these levels.

Mild
Practice
Medium
Practice
Intense
Practice
Mild
Conviction
1
Mild
Practice
Mild
Conviction
2
Medium
Practice
Mild
Conviction
3
Intense
Practice
Mild
Conviction
Medium
Conviction
4
Mild
Practice
Medium
Conviction
5
Medium
Practice
Medium
Conviction
6
Intense
Practice
Medium
Conviction
Intense
Conviction
7
Mild
Practice
Intense
Conviction
8
Medium
Practice
Intense
Conviction
9
Intense
Practice
Intense
Conviction

 

 

Modern Day Application

The most interesting part, of this chart,  is the distinction between conviction and practice.   Someone can have a very intense practice but a weak conviction or a mild practice but a strong conviction. According to this chart, the conviction is what is the most important factor in how fast a state of yoga can be attained.

Why This is Important

Every wondered how someone can have such a beautiful 6 day a week practice but still be an incredible jerk? Have you met that person who meditates every day but still has no peace? Have you met that totally evil person who goes to church every Sunday? These people either lack a deep understanding of what they are practicing, have an erroneous understanding of what they are practicing (misconception Yoga Sutras vs 1-8) or are just going through the motions. Their conviction does not go deep enough to make an internal change or to lead them towards right knowledge.

For instance, maybe the church goer can quote the Bible backwards and forwards but their understanding of it is built on faulty logic (misconception and verbal delusion Yoga Sutras 1: 7-9). So they seem convicted but they are really just going through the motions. Their mind is too closed off to think deep enough to have a true conviction.

Lets look at yoga examples. It is important to understand that Patanjali is saying that all of these people can find freedom, but that those with an intense practice and intense conviction will find it faster.

adhomukhasvanasana2341

Level 3: Intense Practice + Mild Conviction-person who does yogic  practices quite frequently or may have even quit their job and left their old life for spiritual pursuits  but does not really understand what yoga  is or doesn’t apply the lessons from their practice to their lives.

Level 7: Mild Practice +Intense Conviction-person who understands the path of yoga and believes in its power and applies it to their life but they do not have the time for an elaborate practice or they have chosen to pursue a mild practice.

Level 1: Mild Practice+Mild Conviction-person who does mild yoga practices with very little understanding  or belief in yoga

Level 9: Intense practice + Intense Conviction- person who understands yoga and lives and breathes it to the best of their ability 24 hours a day/7 days a week

Levels 4-6 : Are you converted? I worked for a woman once  teaching yoga and we were talking about the low class attendance. She said, “they are not converted yet”. I never forgot that statement. When someone is converted, they fully believe in the power of the practice. They no longer need to be convinced to come to class, to do their practice or to live their yoga. Being converted does not automatically mean dogmatism. It means that the person has experienced the yoga on a deep level and has no doubts about its efficacy and the importance of the practice. People who fall between 4-6 are not completely converted. They question the practice or their ability to excel in it. They have had good enough results with the yoga to continue practicing it but don’t believe in the yoga enough or have not been touched deeply enough by it to be more than middle of the road practitioners.

An intense practice + an intense conviction brings the quickest results.

 

Shanna Small has been practicing Ashtanga Yoga and studying the Yoga Sutras since 2001. She has studied in Mysore with Sharath Jois and is the Director of AYS Charlotte, a school for traditional Ashtanga in Charlotte NC. She has written for Yoga International and the Ashtanga Dispatch. Go here for more information on AYS Charlotte. For information on workshops, please e-mail shanna@ashtangayogaproject.com.

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