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Yoga Sutra 1.14: Depth, Duration, Consistency

Three of the words I’ve always remembered one of my teachers taught me on my 300 Hour Advanced Yoga Teacher Training in 2017 were: “Depth, Duration, Consistency.” I remembered these three words were related to some part of yoga philosophy but couldn’t remember what or where. I just remembered that he said these three words were the key to success in yoga and it was a memorable mantra. (He also said that he thought I hadn’t healed my own mood disorder because my practice wasn’t deep, long or consistent enough- after my seven years of yoga and three years of teaching yoga - but that’s a story for another day 😂).

When studying Pantanjalis’ yoga sutras this morning, I came across Sutra 1.14. AH HAH! This is it! This is where Depth, Duration and Consistency comes from! It’s basically the roots of the famous yoga saying “Yoga Only Works If You Show Up.” (Which I had printed on some merchandise last year, but don’t know the source of.)

sa tu dirghakala nairantarya satkarasevito drdhabhumih.

“Practice (abhyasa) means choosing, applying the effort, and doing those actions that bring a stable and tranquil state (sthitau). (tatra sthitau yatnah abhyasa).”

Basically - if you want to transform your reality - if you want to learn to live yoga - you can’t just do one Vinyasa class and decide your work is done. We all know how easy it is to slip back into old habits. One thing triggers you and you break your sobriety and have a drink. One thing bothers you and you snap into anger. One routine change and you stop doing your asana (postures). I’ve written on this before with reference to the lyrics (inspired by Rolf Gates), “Darkness has a hunger that’s insatiable, and lightness has a call that’s hard to hear.” (Indigo Girls).

Our habits are so deeply engrained into who we are that it takes time. It is a lifelong practice of applying our knowledge of the sutras to our lives. That’s why so many people don’t get sobriety on the first try. That is why so many yoga teachers drop their yoga practice. That is why so many of us fall back into old habits again and again. We need our practice.

Depth: You have to practice with deep respect and love for your practice.

Duration: We have to do our practice over a long period of time.

Consistency: We have to be consistent about it. (hence the very famous quote of @yoga girl - #yogaeverydamnday.”

No one will have instant transformation in yoga or sobriety. That’s why we need to apply this mantra. Depth, Duration, Consistency.

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