What is a sadhana and why do I need one in my life?

This entry is part 3 of 4 in the series Working with a Sankalpa
See all articles in the Working with a Sankalpa series here.

A sadhana creates joy!

By Kara-Leah Grant, author of Forty Days of Yoga

Regular readers will well remember I started a forty day sadhana (spiritual practice) oh… a few months ago. It was an Infinite Wealth and Prosperity meditation, and I was loving doing it.

But then something happened.

I found out I was pregnant, and as this particular meditation involved stomach pumps (a no-no for pregnant women), I had to stop.

But I couldn’t write about it immediately, because I had to wait to tell people I was pregnant. Now I can tell people… so I can finally write about what happened to that meditation!

I know some of my students have been doing the Infinite Wealth and Prosperity meditation, I don’t know if any of them finished the sadhana (forty days of continuous practice). If you have been doing it, whether you finished it or not, please, leave a comment and share your experience.

So what is this sadhana thing anyway?

  • A sadhana is simply a daily spiritual practice designed to allow oneself to turn inward and perceive life as it truly is.

But I’m not religious at all – why would I want to do a spiritual practice?

  • Being spiritual is not about religion at all – although it might mean you have a personal relationship to God, the Divine, the Universe, Allah, the Goddess, Shiva, Shakti… whatever word you like to use to describe something that is omniscient.
  • Many people find connecting with nature is a spiritual experience, it makes them feel more in tune with life, and with themselves.
  • A spiritual practice is simply a practice that connects You to you. That is – your ego self, which is small, limited and separate from everything else, to your Higher Self, which is infinite, unlimited and connected to All that Is.

A sadhana could be:

  • A mantra meditation
  • A specific yogic asana practice like surya namaskar (sun salutations)
  • A particular kriya (set yoga practice which can include asana, pranayama, meditation, asana, mantra, mudra…)
  • A visualisation
  • Reading a spiritual text
  • A daily walk in nature

Why do we practice a sadhana for forty days?

  • A sadhana doesn’t have to be for forty days, it may be just every single day for an indeterminate length of time, or it may be a set time.
  • Forty days is usually the minimum, it’s a number with significance in many spiritual texts, including the Bible ( Lent is for forty days)
  • One reason for this is when you do something every single day for forty days, it ingrains the new discipline. It becomes part of who you are and what you do and it’s actually difficult to stop at the end!

What are the benefits of practicing a sadhana for forty days?

  • Commitment – a sadhana may only be ten minutes a day, but just doing it every single day no matter what says that you care about your spiritual evolution. You are putting yourself first and you are growing.
  • Discipline – the mind and ego are wily, tricksy things and will use all kinds of excuses to try and keep you from doing your sadhana. Doing it every single day builds discipline as we learn not to listen to the mind and the ego, and to just DO what feels good because we know we truly want it.
  • Evolution – you’re either changing and growing as a person, or you’re stagnating. Do you want life to get better, or not? Doing a daily sadhana is one small way to make sure that every single day is just a little bit better than the last one, no matter what else is going on in your life.
  • Foundation – at just 10 minutes, a sadhana is like planting a tiny little seed in the garden. Every day you practice you water it and it grows… and as you get used to dedicating ten minutes a day to your evolution and growth, you’ll naturally discover you want to make more and more time for yourself. That tiny seed blossoms and grows and bears fruit and one day you turn around and discover your whole life has become a sadhana.
  • ‘cos it feels GOOD. Enough said.

Ok, I’m convinced, I want to start my own sadhana. How do I figure out what to do?

  • Set an intention based on what aspect of yourself you want to evolve, or what aspect you’d like to let go of.
  • Find a practice that supports that.

Examples of Sadhanas:

  • Want to open your heart and increase the amount of compassion you feel for other people? Try this heart-opening kriya every day for forty days. It will work MAGIC on you.
  • Want to find greater mental clarity, increase your intuition and open your third eye? Try this simple Om meditation.
  • Want to get rid of old mental and emotional behaviour patterns? Try this powerful technique.
  • Want to build a daily yoga asana practice? Practice surya namaskar (sun saluations) every single day, starting with five a day and building up to 30 a day. Or more. This is a fabulous way to train for Global Mala, which is happening September 20th and 21st around the world. (Ans yes, there will be a Wellington Global Mala – watch this space for more details!)

I have personally used all of these examples above, and been amazed at the effect on my body, mind and soul. Spiritual practice is best if it’s daily, and if it’s consistent. Commiting to a sadhana creates exactly these conditions.

No matter what the mind says, no matter how we feel, no matter what is going on in our day and our lives, every single day for a set time we turn up to the mat and do exactly the same thing.

In doing so, we start to see how much our minds and emotions do fluctuate, and how much we allow these endless fluctuations to govern our lives.

We discover that after our sadhana we feel centred, calm, strong, certain, blissed out, joyful, loving, compassionate and happy.

Yet despite knowing that doing our sadhana makes us feel great, still we witness the mind coming up with all sorts of excuses day in and day out to avoid it.

We start to realise that we can’t trust our thoughts to have our best interests at heart.

We start to dis-identify with the mind, and instead follow our spirit, our heart, our soul.

Life begins to shift, to open up, to change.

The world looks brighter, lighter, more beautiful.

Events and people that once upon a time knocked us for six, or made us feel awful, no longer have the same effect.

We’re building equanimity and balance.

We’re finding our core, our centre.

That place where nothing can touch us, nothing can hurt us, nothing can harm us.

We realise that thoughts and emotions and events and people will always come and go and change. We realise it’s not by controlling these thoughts and emotions and events and people that we make ourselves happy.

It is by being at our centre, our core, our heart.

And now we know how to get there.

So we do our sadhana.

And we wonder why the whole world isn’t practicing sadhana…

Finally, if you want some support for the process of cultivating sadhana in your life, check out Forty Days of Yoga – Breaking down the barriers to a home yoga practice. The book is designed to get you on your mat every single day for forty days. And it works!

Read more: Working with a SankalpaHow to surrender into back bends using a sankalpaEffects of the Sankalpa in Satyananda Yoga Nidra – Manifesting the positive

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Comments

  1. says

    Kara-Leah, congratulations on your news! I am so happy for you and wish you and your partner much peace and love during this special time.

    I am doing a sadhana at the moment that basically involves getting myself on my yoga mat every morning. I’m doing it for a variety of reasons, not least of which is to get that discipline of starting the day with yoga ingrained in to me.

  2. Kara-Leah Grant says

    Hey Anne-Marie,

    Thank you!

    Good luck on your sadhana – it’s such a wonderful foundation to be able to start each day with yoga. Your whole day feels different.

    Blessings,
    KL

  3. says

    I know I already said it but, big congrats! Life is beautiful and unpredictably magical!

    Thanks for reminding me about Anmol’s awesome heart chakra set. Will definitely be incorporating that into my daily actions. :-)

    I’m now dreaming of prenatal yoga and knitted baby goodies. ;-)

    Bless,

    Vera

  4. Kara-Leah Grant says

    Hey Yvonne,

    As you’ve been writing about on your blog, sadhana is another word for routine, albeit one with a spiritual focus.

    Hey Vera,

    Cheers babe! It is an awesome heart set from Anmol, one of the best I think.

    Blessings,
    KL

  5. says

    Congratulations on your pregnancy!

    I loved my practice during pregnancy with Hawk. It was such a dynamic, unbelievable experience of growth and really listening deeply to and trusting my body.

    That diligent practice of listening deeply and trusting helped to create the most amazing, pleasurable and ecstatic birth experience as well. I also credit weekly prenatal massage, btw! LOL

    Have an amazing pregnancy and I look forward to seeing you again when Ryan, Hawk, and I move to NZ!

    Many blessings to you all (you, partner, and baby!)!

    Jenifer

  6. Kara-Leah Grant says

    Hey Jenifer,

    Oh I love the sound of weekly prenatal massage! How fantastic. I am enjoying my practice, which is tending more towards pranayama and meditation at the moment.

    It was great to see you with Hawk (as I knew at the time I was pregnant) – yogi babies seem so magical!

    Many blessings,
    KL

Trackbacks

  1. [...] I signed up for yoga school. And then, I decided I was going to work on my relationships with Jeremy, with others, and with myself (no big deal). Maybe I was building another problem doll to add to my stacking set, or maybe it was an effort to create a support system for my self-reflection, but I took on a summer sadhana. In yoga-speak, that means “a daily spiritual practice designed to allow oneself to turn inward and perceive life as it truly is…“ [...]

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