One of the things I’ve noticed about the language of yoga is how often the word “practice” surfaces. This term gets mentioned with regularity and is often used as a substitute for the word “Yoga”. The phrase “Yoga Practice” is often abbreviated to just “Practice.” Hearing this expression so frequently got me thinking about the nature of this particular term. Just what do we mean when we refer to “practice” in the context of Yoga?
I grew up playing sports and I became well acquainted with the concept of practice at an early age. Practice was what you did to prepare for games. It wasn’t always fun. In fact more often than not it was hard work. In practice we ran drills, we executed plays, we did exercises, we held scrimmages and we discussed strategy. By doing all of these difficult things in practice it made the actual game that much easier.
In Yoga there is no equivalent to the “game” that you would find in other athletic pursuits. In Yoga there is only practice. This leads to the question: what exactly is one practicing for by doing Yoga? I think the answer to this one is actually really simple. You just have to ask yourself what you are doing when you are not engaged in Yoga.
For most of us the answer is that we are living the rest of our lives. We are dealing with realities of modern society. We are working, eating, sleeping, driving, having fun, dealing with stress, raising kids, traveling etc…. We are doing all the things that human beings do to occupy their time on this planet. By doing Yoga we strengthen our minds and our bodies so that every aspect our lives is that much better. Yoga is practice for life.