|[ Excerpt from The Science of Yoga, page 301 ]
The classical treatise Hatha Yoga Pradipika describes the successful hatha yogi:
"Slimness and nimbleness of the body, clear and resonant voice, serenity and lustre of the face, freedom from disease, bright eyes and clear vision, control over the creative energy, increase of the inner fire, complete purification of the nadis, and the clear, continual audition of the inner sounds (nada); such are the signs of the success in hatha yoga."
In the SHIVA SAMHITA, Lord Shiva tells us:
"Confidence that their efforts will bear fruit is the first sign of success. The second is being filled with faith; the third reverence for the teacher; The fourth is the state of equanimity; the fifth is control of the five senses; the sixth is moderate diet."
Success in yoga permeates visibly throughout every aspect of one's entire life, though at times these affects may seem less than agreeable. Remember that elevation to a higher life necessitates a great deal of change. Done over time, the transitions can appear smooth and uniform, but in yoga, often change can be abrupt and disruptive too.
As one advances into the field of yoga, They are invariably confronted with their "self" -- their conditionings and programmed attitudes, misperceptions and unawareness. Insight, understanding and realization ultimately dawns upon the one who is persistent in yoga. This ultimately leads to positive change.
But this change happens in an uncontrolled environment, so to speak; surroundings filled with people, lifestyles and situations which are often quite resistant to change. This is an area of the path of yoga seldom talked about by teachers. The yoga teacher's primary concern for their student is the dawning of a greater consciousness, the shedding of light upon the darkness, the complete re-organization of the unconscious personality into a cognoscente and aware being.
What affects the yoga student also affects those around them, and in particular those closest to them such as a spouse, parent or child, who themselves may not have even a spark of interest in change (or in yoga). Relationships may at times suffer strain; work may take on a previously unknown dimension which feels less than satisfying; and previous activities of interest may fall by the wayside while newer yearnings look for a means to express themselves.
All this occurs within the previous structure of a life upon which many other people may also be dependant (such as a spouse, children, friends, etc.). And so, success in yoga may not immediately unfold an environment of peace, tranquillity an acceptance for the student.
The student of yoga then, could be forgiven for questioning at times the benefits that yoga brings -- of whether or not their lives are indeed becoming better and more harmonious.
I remind you that growth necessitates change. As our bodies went through changes when we grew from childhood into an adult, so too does the growth of the spirit, the evolution to the higher life entail growing pangs. This is natural and necessary for evolution.
As we eventually settled into our adult bodies and minds, so too will we eventually find comfort in yoga and experience the boundless joy of the higher life. Those around us will grow with us, grow to understand and accept us, or grow away from us. Such is the ever changing nature of life.
It is not only the yogis task to find harmony within, but to also create harmony without -- to become a positive force of influence in a world that is struggling to find purpose and understanding. In this way, we all become karma yogis. Through self-less, higher action, we find our own transcendence, and in doing so make the world a better place along the way...
The biggest signs of success in yoga, then, are those subtle, positive changes which happen all around us as we stride forth with confidence, determination and courage in the yoga life.
NOTE: This yoga article is an excerpt from The Science of Yoga, an online yoga training program with streaming yoga videos and 600 pages of step-by-step yoga instruction.
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