Practice is important because it moves you out of theory and into experience, experience of the sacred, esoteric knowledge of the Self. Sri K Pattabhi Jois, the founder of Ashtanga yoga, repeatedly emphasized the difference between theoretical knowledge and practical experiential knowledge.
Ashtanga yoga students are known for taking practice seriously. We faithfully follow the recipe of two hours or more per day six days a week. There are plenty of us who wake up at pretty much insane hours (3am– ish) in order to carve out our solitary time to practice. You might wonder where the drive or motivation comes from to even begin or sustain such a regime?
Practice only because you want to practice. End of statement. Don’t do it for any reason at all, not for following a lineage, for weight loss, to get in shape, fun, health, spiritual growth, realization, prayer, or devotion. NOT FOR ANY OF THOSE REASONS.
Banish any ‘reason’ that you come across within yourself for getting on your mat no matter what it is.
You know you’ve found something important to you when you have to do it no matter what because there is no other choice for you. Somehow you find the time to practice, read, study, listen, contemplate, ponder, or otherwise be involved in that subject. With yoga that usually means hounding a teacher and using all manner of ingenuity just to know a little bit more about that thing. You are on the hunt for something that will allow you to penetrate what Kabir calls ‘your thick body’.
Think about when you a were a kid. You just did stuff, you felt pulled to it, there was no thought of gain or, bettering your self. You didn’t have to convince yourself, you usually just stumbled upon something worthwhile and played. Don’t burden your practice with any reasons at all.
Like Kabir says “Those who hope to be reasonable about it fail.
The arrogance of reason has separated us from that love.
With the word “reason” you already feel miles away.”
You don’t need a guru, psychological depth, penetrative insights, or important breakthroughs that could revolutionize your soul. It’s actually all so plain and simple just decide and see, it’s so ticklishly near but devilishly difficult to grasp, like Alan Watts said, ‘You can’t bite your own teeth’.
Attempt to fortify yourself with too many reasons and you’ll miss it and that is a great tragedy because a well timed wink and a sly half smile will usually suffice.