By Lisa Ware, Yoga Instructor, Nutrition, Lifecoaching & Reiki
“One part of sadhana should stay constant long enough for you to master, or at least experience, the changes evoked by a single technique. Each kriya and mantra has its individual effects, although they all elevate you toward a cosmic consciousness. Learn to value the pricelessness of one kriya, and all others will be understood in a clearer light.”
Before I begin explaining the importance of a Sadhana it is important you understand the original Sanskirt meaning along with other important aspects surrounding it and their meanings. Sadhana literally “a means of accomplishing something”, is an ego-transcending spiritual practice. It refers to a tantric liturgy or liturgical manual, that is, the instructions to carry out a ritual.
I want to share with you why Sadhana is a significant part of your daily practice in your development as a yogi and as a human being. This practice is not something to check off a list, and it is very different than asana or meditation. Sadhana is done with specific intention to grow and awaken to the Flow. There is a common saying, “You are what you eat.” In yoga, there is another saying. “Your habits define you.”
There is nothing to redeem or purify at the soul-level, isn’t this great news!? The soul is complete and beautiful as it is. But this reality “life” is based on our habits. Our habits define us to ourselves and to other people. By our habits, we live in peace, joy and happiness. By our habits, we create suffering and pain. When we change our habits, everything around us can change.
For many years, I held a forty day spiritual practice over Lent (a Sadhana, as I now know). The first thing I ever did for a spiritual practice was simply to give up sugar for 40 days. The depth of my practices have definitely deepened, but the intention is always to do the Sadhana as an intention to connect to something greater than ourselves.
In this article, I have listed some ideas for you and many important details on this topic to get you started on your daily practice. My hope is that you begin this journey, or deepen one you already have and continue to develop this practice daily until your life in this Earth realm is complete!
Let me answer some commonly asked questions from the yoga students on the topic.
What is this Sadhana thing anyway?
- A Sadhana is simply a daily spiritual practice designed to allow oneself to turn inward and perceive life as it truly is.
But I’m not religious at all, why would I want to do a spiritual practice?
- Being spiritual is not about religion at all – although it might mean you have a personal relationship to God, the Divine, the Universe, the Infinite, Consciousness, Allah, the Divine, Source, The Great Mystery, Goddess, Shiva, Shakti… whatever word you like to use to describe something that is omniscient.
- Many people find connecting with nature is an innately spiritual experience, it makes them feel more in tune with life, and with themselves.
- A spiritual practice is simply a practice that connects you to your Highest Self. That is – your ego self, which is small, limited and separate from everything else, to your Higher Self, which is infinite and connected to the great I AM.
Ideas for a daily of 40 day Sadhana:
- A mantra
- A chant
- A specific daily meditation
- A specific yogic asana practice like surya namaskar (sun salutation)
- A particular kriya (set yoga practice which can include asana, pranayama, meditation, asana, mantra, mudra…)
- Creative visualization
- Affirmations, said with intention
- Reading a spiritual text
- A daily walk in nature
Why do we practice a Sadhana for forty days?
- A Sadhana doesn’t have to be for forty days, it may be just every single day for an indeterminate length of time, or it may be a set time that you decide.
- Forty days is usually the minimum, it’s a number with significance in many spiritual texts, including the Bible, as Lent is for forty days.
- One reason for this is when you do something every single day for forty days, it ingrains the new discipline into our brains; this is the study of neuroplasticity. The grooves in the brain get re-grooved or REALLY GROOVY! These new grooves (Sadhana) can replace old bad ones (Samskaras) and this literally now becomes part of who you are.
What are the benefits of practicing a Sadhana for forty days?
- SELF LOVE… Love yourself. LOVE YOURSELF. No one can ever love you more than you. This is the calibration for all other love to come in. Ebb and Flow, baby! This is the cycle of giving and receiving.
- COMMITMENT…a Sadhana may only be three, five or ten minutes a day, but just doing it every single day no matter what says that you care about your spiritual evolution. Put yourself first. Do not cancel on you, do this regularly and you are growing and evolving.
- DISCIPLINE…the ego is shrewd, clever and tricky. It will use all kinds of excuses to try and keep you from doing your Sadhana. Doing it every single day builds discipline as we learn not to listen to the mind and the ego, and to just DO what feels good because we know we truly want it. Every thought that feels good is bringing us closer to our Inner Guidance System and attracting more feeling good thoughts!
- EVOLUTION… you are either changing and growing as a person, or you’re stagnating. “When you rest you rust”, said the women’s movement entrepreneur, Mary Kay Ash. Do you want life to improve? Doing a daily Sadhana is one small way to make sure that every single day is just a little bit better than the last one, no matter what else is going on in your life.
- FOUNDATION… just 10 minutes. A Sadhana is like planting a tiny little seed in the garden. Every day you practice you water it and it grows… and as you get used to dedicating ten minutes a day to your evolution and growth, you’ll naturally discover you want to create more and more time for yourself! That tiny seed blossoms, grows and bears fruit and one day you turn around and discover your whole life has become a Sadhana. You can read more about Sadhana in the book BE HERE NOW, by Ram Dass.
I hope these explanation and ideas get you re-energized to restart or motivate you to continue your Sadhana.