The practice of yoga, like a car, takes maintanence. If we look at our bodies as our vehicles, we know that there are certain milestones that we need to meet. We change our oil every 3000 – 5000 miles to keep our cars running, but do we think about how our bodies and souls need to be constantly oiled with the sweet elixir of a consistent practice.
Maintaining a diligent yoga practice is difficult with the busy lives everyone leads in our culture. If we are to grow as yoga practitioners, we must continue to practice as much as we can. What’s the right amount of practice? Just as your car is only as good as how you maintain it and lets you know by breaking down when it is not taken care of, your body and soul will let you know when it needs yoga. Once you start a yoga practice, your entire being will feel the necessity to keep going.
Be aware of the warning signs of your body needing some spiritual maintenance or tune-up as the case may be. It can be your body feeling aches and pains, not sleeping well, and feeling out of sorts. Take note and pay attention. Better yet, take the time to re-invigorate your practice.
It’s to just our bodies that need yoga: it is our souls as well, with the connection to something larger than ourselves. The spiritual path of yoga can open us up to meaningful connections to the sacred in our lives. Spiritual maintenance requires us to recognize those dimensions which are beyond the seen. To be cognizant of our spirituality and be diligent in our practice is what takes us to the next level in yoga.
Otherwise, not being mindful of spiritual maintenance can lead to backsliding. In the Yoga Sutras by Pantanjali (the bible of yoga) Yoga Sutra Chapter 1 Verse 30, anavasthitatva, are the obstacles we face when are trying to maintain a practice, backsliding into our old habits. From the Yoga Sutras, the translation of anasthitatva is, “slipping down from the ground gained.” We can regress into old patterns of being distracted and become disheartened. We often work very hard to obtain a goal and then try to maintain the progress we have made which is difficult, so we relapse.
Pantanjali accounts for this “backsliding” by stating that, “Yoga practice is like an obstacle race, many obstructions are purposely put in our way for us to pass through. They are there for us to maintain and express out capacities.” In other words, we need to have the challenge that yoga presents to us in order to understand our own abilities. Know that when we are feeling distraught about not keeping up our practice that it’s all part of the process and that if you meet the challenge and renew your practice, we can go back with a whole new vigor.
Making that commitment to your practice with focus and self–determination will keep you on the path of spiritual maintainence. Recognize that if you fall off the path, you can come back with a new strength.
In both yoga and car maintainence, if one takes the time to align and tune-up, both the body, spirit and the vehicle run much better. Think about yoga the next time you get an oil change or an alignment on your car. Are you keeping your body and spirit in tune and aligned as well? This is where the quieting of the mind and contentment starts to sneak in, when everything is in harmony. With your vehicles, they run so much more smoothly with tune-ups and maintainence. Hopefully, we can keep both our bodies, spirit, and cars in tune at all times.