By Swami Harshananda
Abhyāsayoga literally means ‘practice leading to yoga’.
Controlling the mind and concentrating it on a chosen object or theme is a tough task. Only those who have attempted it can vouch for its almost impossibility. However, the great teachers of yoga assure us that it is difficult but not impossible as long as the practitioner has the right attitude and determined practice. The path prescribed is referred to as abhyāsayoga. This term which seems to be referred in the Bhagavadgītā has been interpreted in two slightly different but compatible ways:
- Abhyāsa or practice leading to yoga or concentration
- Abhyāsa or practice which is itself yoga since it leads to yoga or concentration.
Withdrawing the mind repeatedly from the various objects towards which it is naturally drawn and fixing it upon the desired goal is abhyāsa. When this fixing becomes steady and grows in intensity, it ripens into yoga or perfect concentration, also called as samādhi. Hence abhyāsa and yoga form the preliminary and final stages of the same discipline. Some of the disciplines recommended by the Bhagavadgitā for proper abhyāsayoga are:
- Retiring into solitude
- Choosing the right place conducive to yoga
- Observing moderation in all aspects of daily life
- Practicing self-control
- ↑ Bhagavadgītā 8.8 and 12.9
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore