Mental preparation

I have mentioned already what a crucial part the mind has to play in yoga. So it is only fair that we should undertake some mental preparation if our minds are to receive the full benefits.

First, it can be very helpful to do some research beforehand to give yourself some theoretical knowledge about the background to yoga. The whole philosophy underpinning the practice, the history of its development, the theory of the energetic body and a study of anatomy will all prove fruitful. (I can recommend Yoga for You: A Step-by-Step Guide to Yoga at Home for Everybody by Tara Fraser and The Elements of Yoga by Godfrey Devereux as hugely helpful practical texts while the Bhagavad Gita and the Upanishads are especially stimulating original sources.)

It’s important to say that how much research you do is entirely up to you. I’ve mentioned that there should be no competitive element to yoga – although naturally we find it difficult at first to shrug off those instincts – so you need never feel you’re in a race to be top of the class.

Second, you can prepare your mind for going on the inward journey towards a true and fundamental knowledge of your inner self. You can help yourself by trying to clear your mind of extraneous thoughts and worries, but don’t expect miracles to occur overnight. It’s a gradual process.

As you continue to practice, and prepare mentally for each session, you will find it easier to attain clarity of mind. Your self-discipline, self-acceptance, sense of contentment, powers of observation and ability to access enlightened mental states will all improve.

By allowing your mind to progress through the Eight Limbs as described by Patanjali, you will be preparing to ascend towards a higher state of consciousness, yoga’s ultimate goal.