Two Words for Practice

Since yoga is, first and foremost, a practice, it is worth taking a look at two words from the yoga lexicon which are regularly translated as “practice”: abhyasa and sadhana. Before we get into the subtle distinction between these two terms for practice, let’s first review the goal of yoga.  The Yoga Sutra, arguably the most important text for practitioners of yoga, opens with Patanjali’s pronouncement of readiness to teach the ways of yoga. Yoga Sutra 1.2 reads:
yogas-citta-vrtti-nirodah (Yoga is the stilling of the modifications of the mind.)
In an equally popular but less didactic text on yoga, the beloved Bhagavad Gita, yoga is still a discipline, but it is directed primarily toward union with God.  What these two texts share in common is an acknowledgment of the mind’s cravings as the primary obstacle to a state of ease and union with the Absolute. In this simple teaching we are offe

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