“Any person who is not lethargic can practice yoga, be he young, old very old, sick or weak. One who is intent on practice will obtain yoga, not one who is idle. Yoga is not obtained by the reading Scriptures, nor by wearing the dress of a yogini, nor by talking about it. Practice alone is the course of success.”
These classic lines were written in the “Hatha Yoga Pradipika” by Svatmarama and express that yoga is a path of action which does not require renouncing the world but constant attention to practice. In this way he acknowledges that our present actions have future results both in the world (physically) and emotionally. Patanjali calls this Samskara – emotional imprints in our sub conscious. Through our actions we can move towards greater clarity, or confusion – it is through our acts that we will achieve samadhi not through our beliefs.
Kriyayoga is the term Patanjali gives at the beginning of the second chapter to describe the nature of practice. Kriyayoga – the yoga of action, consists of 3 tiers or layers – that a practice should contain three qualities – work (Tapas), self study (Svadhaya) and surrender (Isvara Pranidhana).
While these three tiers are levels on which we can practice they should not be seen as stages. BKS Iyengar has shown in his book “the Tree of Yoga” that the 8 limbs of yoga are not stages to be approached one after another but represent 8 limbs of a tree which feed the whole. So too practice exists on each of the 3 tiers concurrently.
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