How do I know if my yoga practices – postures, breathwork, meditation, lifestyle, etc. – are working?
I appreciate Dr. Pandit Rajmani Tigunait’s answer from “Inner Quest”:
The essential technique of yoga is to bring your mind to a state of balance – to attain control over its modifications. You become the master of your mind when you attain the ability to guide it so that it works the way you want it to work. Chitta vritti nirodha yogaha (Sutra 1.2)
Controlling the mind does not mean suppressing the mind. It’s like driving your car. Having control over the car means driving it the way you want and to the extent you want. It also means that you are able to stop it when you wish and turn it when you want. Similarly, control over the mind means having the ability to let it work when it is needed, and to stop it from running when it’s time to rest.
Any technique that helps you gain mastery over your mind is a part of yoga: your diet, exercise, and breathing, as well as your thinking process and your philosophy of life. But with any practice you do, see whether it is helping you become clearer, more concentrated, more organized, and more cheerful. Are you having fewer doubts, fears, attachments, and complications in your life? Is your life becoming simpler and more straightforward? If you are moving in that direction, you are practicing yoga. If not, there is something wrong either in the practice itself or in the way you are doing it. No matter how glorious a practice seems to be, no matter how popular it is, or how much others seem to admire it, if you do not notice a positive effect on your mind then such a practice does not qualify as yoga.
So, does my asana practice bring me concentrated energy or exhaustion? Does my meditation practice result in clarity in my everyday life? Do my food, sleep, relationship choices bring me joy or drag me down? Food for thought =).
Find more wisdom here: The Himalayan Institute