Sādhanā, a dedicated discipline undertaken in the pursuit of a spiritual goal, is a grounding exercise that allows you to cultivate balance, ease and calm both on and off the yoga mat.
I was a dedicated yoga class attendee for a long time. I was physically showing up, taking on the intention of the class that day, or from that teacher, and taking away wonderful food for thought. But there was no continuity or real reflection on my own goals, views or development of my deep desires for my life. I had the sense that yoga had such potential to change my life, but I was reliant on getting that change from the outside, from other people.
The more I read, it became clear that the answers are on the inside. Purpose, intuition, healing and intelligence will ultimately come from that true inner listening — from looking inward and facing ourselves.
What is Sādhanā ?
Sādhanā is the cornerstone of a yoga experience — what and how we practise determines what we gain from this ancient system. It’s the term that describes an intimate personal effort to work towards a spiritual goal. It doesn’t necessarily describe what that has to be — each of us may require a different quality or technique to get what we need out of the experience of yoga. A pivotal moment for me was reading Light on Life by B.K.S. Iyengar, written beautifully in reflection of a life of practice. To Iyengar, “Sādhanā is a discipline undertaken in the pursuit of a goal.”
How to create your own 40-day Sādhanā
- Ensure you have a space and dedicate yourself to a length of time each day. Let the time be meaningful and ensure there is something about it that is enjoyable and sacred to you.
- Create your sankalpa: a positive statement written in present tense. What qualities would you like to bring into fruition through your Sādhanā ? (If you have a habit you would like to break, think about what will be enabled in you when that habit is no longer in your life.)
- Do your research on what practices may assist the quality of the sankalpa you want to bring to each day. There may be a particular asana, breath work, chant, mudra, kriya or meditation technique that is appropriate.
- Know that 40 days is tough! There will be challenges internally and externally but show yourself you can do it. In a fast-moving world, becoming more convenient and distracted, listening and showing up for yourself means you can remember who you are and what you want among it all.
I moved cities, and with little money and without a place to practise, I was forced to not rely on the structure classes provide. It was in that space that I began embarking on sādhanā, 40 days at a time. I learned quickly that to sit with yourself and only yourself is a difficult and confronting process, so I looked further and decided I needed some direction.
Inspired by Yogi Bhajan’s Kundalini Yoga and the 40-day practice, this idea of building towards a goal began to open up the realm of creating a sankalpa. To understand what that is, we have to look at the word itself, which has its roots in two seed sounds of the Sanskrit language. “Sa” is a sound that makes up the part of the word that means “the highest”. “Kalpa”, a law or a rule, also has its roots in “kala”, which references time.
Just exploring the word can offer us the reminder that we have a window of time to work on something — that our lives, or a period of time, offer us the opportunity to work at something deeper. It drives the will to explore or develop a particular area of my life that needs healing or remembering. That drives me to get up in the morning, get to my mat and see something I didn’t see before. To ensure that I am touching on that highest power within myself and harnessing it to step into the day with the ability to make choices that serve my place and purpose in the world.
Words PHOEBE JONES
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