Yoga And the Force of Habit

Success in yoga is defined by the habit to practice regularly. Let’s see why a habit to practice is of key importance.

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” Aristotle

Forming the associative links

The theory of yoga includes the concept of associative links. Each of us has a Higher Self – our true ultramundane essence – however, due to Maya, we don’t realise it. Maya is something which, on the one hand, makes it possible for our Higher Self to manifest itself in this world; on the other hand, it generates the illusion that makes things appear as something different. As a result of this correlation, we associate ourselves not with what we really are, but with our manifestations. This is how our associative links are formed. The first associative link is Prana, the life force, which emanates from our Higher Self to our bodies, giving them life. Forming our bodies Prana divides itself into Consciousness and Energy, which diverge into two opposite extremes and create the principles (chakras) one after another. The path of divergence forms the so called Central Channel in our body – Sushumna. 

Next to Sushumna there are the left and the right channels – Ida and Pingala. These are the channels of perception and action. Then there are finer channels, so called nadis, which can extend outside of the body, connecting us with external objects. Each channel is a specific associative link. Altogether, the associative links on physical, subtle and causal levels form our body. 

«Our spontaneous reaction, our negative state of mind, our physical and emotional feelings depend on our associative links, on the way our channels are formed and on the way our Prana goes through them” Vadim Openyoga

Yoga and its impact on our bodies

When we practice yoga we can influence the associative links from both the subtle level (our thoughts and emotions) to the physical level (our physical body) and from the physical to the subtle. Therefore, we break our old inappropriate associative links and form the new ones – the relevant ones. We can change and restructure our habits, rejecting those which reduce our freedom and cultivate those which expand it. Wherever we direct our attention, our Prana follows it. 

For instance, we get used to be angry with other people and demonstrate malevolence (subtle level), it leads to all kinds of negativity, one of which could be bad health (physical level). If we meditate every day on wishing happiness to all living beings, our associative link of malevolence towards others gradually weakens and is replaced with a new link of the positive message into the Universe, leading to better health. 

The same happens when we practice physical types of yoga. When we practice yoga, we move our body: we stretch, massage, twist and shake it. As a result we release tension and our Prana starts circulating and restructuring our internal structures in the most effective way. Besides, when we regularly practice yoga, we get more Prana for our associative links. 

Man sows a thought and reaps an action. He sows an action and reaps a habit. He sows a habit and reaps a character. He sows a character and reaps a destiny. Svami Shivananda “Thought power”

Place and time for the practice

It will be easier to form a habit of practicing yoga if we do it in the same place and at the same time. Our Prana follows the chain of associative links, connected with time and place of our practice. Therefore, visiting this place many times we tune ourselves on the practice much faster and have deeper feelings. It is also very important to switch off our mind from any distracting activity. Brush aside any thoughts about future or any past memories. We draw back Prana from the outside world and direct our attention inside, helping our body to transform. This is a Principle of effectiveness. We do not waste our time and efforts and move towards our goals, which we set in Yoga. 

Наша Воля ведёт нас к победе!

Быстрее перестроиться помогает принцип «наметил-сделал», когда мы применяем свою Волю и доводим начатое до конца. Мы намечаем себе какие-то действия в йоге, например, регламентируем время практики или время выполнения упражнения и целеустремлённо выполняем их. Тем самым мы приучаем себя к дисциплине и перестраиваем свои привычки в кратчайшие сроки.

Our willpower leads us to victory!

When we use our willpower and finish what we have started, the principle “if you intend to do something, get it done” will help us to transform faster. We make some plans in yoga, for example, we set a time for our practice or for a particular pose and we follow this plan purposefully. In this way, we master self-discipline and restructure our habits very quickly.

If we wish to change ourselves, yoga gives us all the necessary tools. Thanks to yoga, we can change our habits, views and our lifestyle. Changing our inner way of life, we change the outer world. Our surroundings might change, as well as our job and the rhythm of life. With the help of yoga we can give up bad habits, which limit our freedom and we gain good ones, which will allow us to improve our capabilities and discover our talents. 

Build your habits and change the Universe for the better!

Author: Maria Sarasvati

Editors: Mariya Gayatri, Alla Ravi, Olga Belous, Eva Mai, Yevgeniya Agni 

Chief editor: Mirra

Project curator: Kerigona

Translators: Tatiana Sugrue, Nat Satcitananda, Alexander Vijaya