In the sutras of Patanjali, he has dedicated 3 out of the 198 sutras to yoga. These 3 sutras tell us how the physical body can be used to control our mind. We should make yoga a way of life and try to maintain awareness at all times. Without being stable at both physical and mental level, we cannot achieve anything in life.
Sutra 1 – Sthira Sukham Asanam स्थिरसुखमासनम्
Practicing yoga with strength and in a relaxed manner gives rise to harmony with the physical body (asana). It connects the physical and mental bodies to reach a stage of blissfulness. Hence the foundation of Ashtanga yoga where emphasis is on slowness and maintenance. It is important to have a strong and stable posture and be able to maintain it with ease and relaxation.
This in turn trains our mind to adapt to the steadiness in the way we think and act. For example, a Rajasic personality who is hyperactive will benefit from Ashtanga practice as it helps to slow down the mind. A hot-tempered personality will also benefit from Ashtanga practices as holding in a position trains the mind to react to situation with more patience and harmony allowing the mind to think before you act or say something you might regret.
Sutra 2 – prayatna shaithilya ananta samapatti bhyam प्रयत्नशैथिल्यानन्तसमापत्तिभ्याम्
The key to success in this regard is practice with effort, which becomes progressively easier, combined with deep contemplation.
Practice makes perfect, as you put in your whole-hearted effort to learn or do something, it will become easier over time. Put in your best effort before you sit back and relax. Similar in yoga practice, push yourself beyond your limits, go deeper into the posture before you return to resting position when its time for you to relax and enjoy the fruit of your hard work.
This sutra applies to life in the same way. When we set our mind to embark on something, being learning a new skill or starting a new business. We need to have the physical and mental stamina to invest our whole-hearted effort before we give up. For example, if we are to embark on a new business, we need to have a sound business plan derived with deep contemplation and dedicate our hard work for at least 3 years before we can see the result of our success. And if we happened to fail, we can seek solace in knowing we have put in our effort and learn to accept the outcome.
Sutra 3 – Thato dvandva an abhighatah ततो द्वङ्द्वानभिघात
This results in a victory over the duality of life.
It is about acceptance and balance of life. You can always try to do more, you can always try to win in every race. But as long as you have put in your best effort, you have won. You are not concern over the dualities of whether there is a winner or a loser, a success or a failure. From the mastery of your practice, you have come to be able to detach and accept the outcome.
Through yoga practice, you can gain mastery in the postures. Through the practice and the process of reaching that mastery level, you have conditioned your mind to be at peace. When you come back from a posture, you can fully enjoy the benefits. Likewise in life, we can see it in the hardship and labour of a farmer. A farmer has put in his effort to reap the soil and plant the seeds, and work in the field everyday to rid off the weeds. The outcome may not be a direct reflection of his hardwork as he cannot control the weather and natural conditions. He can only accepts the outcome of how his crops turn out and enjoy whatever harvest he gets out of it.