Question: When will I feel the great inner peace that yoga is supposed to give us?
Many yoga students are drawn to yoga in a quest to find inner peace. Yet that sense of calm and equanimity is not easy to attain. After years of standing, seated and inverted poses, you may find yourself wondering just when it will happen for you.
Patanjali, in the Yoga Sutras, often addresses this issue. He uses two Sanskrit terms to teach us what is required to attain samadhi: abhyassa is effort and devoted practice, and vairagyais renunciation or the absence of worldly desires. We are told that we must cultivate abhyassa and vairagyaas two sides of the same coin.
The truth is that you are already on the path. The moment you unroll your yoga mat, turn on the yoga music, or chant the prayers, you are making a choice to turn your attention away from worldly pursuits and worries. Each time you choose yoga, you are moving away from the endless chatter in your head. This is practicing vairagya.
Once you get on the mat and commit to repeated, steady practice of the asanas, you are engaged in abhyassa.Without practice, how can you renounce anything? In order to get rid of attachments, you must practice. It takes a long time and tremendous self-determination to build a solid foundation.
Sticking with the asanas you struggle with most is an important part of yoga practice. Back bends like Urdhva Dhanurasana are difficult, yet when completely immersed in a back bend, your mind grows quiet.
By cultivating these two qualities, abhyassa and vairagya as you practice, your consciousness will be transformed and your inner peace will naturally start to develop.