Intelligent practice of an authentic yoga tradition will itself reveal the Truth that physical and mental health and well-being are ephemeral benefits or mere perks, which pale beside the value of realizing the spirit.
Over years of practicing Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga, my health and peace of mind have become more valuable, more sacred to me than ever. Meanwhile, my own sense of wellness seems to be coming from something deeper.
The more I practice, the more I feel a longing for this something deeper. I am content, but not satisfied.
As practitioners, we must accept that we cannot dictate the state in which we as students seek yoga in the present. We are who we are, with physical, emotional and psychological patterns developed in the past. Yet it is only in the present that we can free ourselves from the past.
As teachers, we try to consciously accept and acknowledge students as they are in this moment, while seeking a way to best support them in their aspirations to be their best.
One should not fool oneself into thinking that since one has now taken up yoga, suddenly s/he is holy, or liberated from any struggle of the past. Or that if one is teaching yoga, they are beyond the need for daily self practice.
Nor is it helpful to suddenly renounce or reject bad habits or thought patterns. As the new year approaches, we can observe how many people try to ‘quit’ whatever they or society may label as wrong, bad, etc..
The yoga tradition suggests that we take up a life-promoting practice; rather than not do something negative, we do something postive (abhyasa). In doing so, our resolve and steadfastness improves, so that quitting the other stuff becomes simply another manageable step (vairagya) on the epic and magical journey of life.
Listen to your teacher. Follow the instructions. DO THE PRACTICE while being compassionate and forgiving for yourself. Get out of bed early in the morning and head for your yoga mat or meditation cushion every day you can, and the not-so-spiritual habits of lifestyle may in a bit of time change.
This practice is about cultivating consistency and steadiness in our perspective, to view the stillness within through the movement of life. This is intelligent practice.