yourself with the practice of Yoga. - Bhagavad Gita 7:1
Frequently, news stories appear indicating that more and more people are practicing yoga. That is misleading and incorrect information. More and more people are practicing poses (asanas) not the Yoga (upper case) of the the Gita which is spiritual pursuit, growth and evolution. A yogi is a person who adheres to a spiritual philosophy of life designed to create space for movement from the lower self to the higher self and from darkness to light.
Making this transition means placing some of our focus inwardly. Most of our time is consumed by the outward: getting an educating, establishing a career, marriage, children, etc. While that is appropriate, this verse in the Gita is a reminder to reserve some of our time and effort toward internal growth. We need to accept the responsibility to use our mind not only for external and worldly success but to to accomplish the internal work which will result in an enlightened life. According to Krishna, these are the three steps toward enlightenment:
#1) There must be intent. Intentions guide actions. Spiritual expansion requires intention, a commitment to make this happen. Find a spiritual path and immerse yourself in it by reading the texts, studying with teachers, intentionally being in the company of spiritual friends.
#2) There must be discipline. Spiritual growth cannot be accomplished in a careless, disorganized and erratic way. A regular daily pattern must be established and maintained. Consistency is vital. The bridge between intention and accomplishment is discipline.
#3) There must be practice. Spiritual evolution requires both learning and application. Yoga teachers often remind their students to "take your yoga off the mat". That means applying the lessons of Yoga into relationships, into places of work and into all of life. Similarly, Christians are often reminded to "practice what you preach."
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