A Yoga Sequence to Help You Balance Effort and Surrender

Finding inspiration on the mat when practicing alone can be difficult. The following sequence will help you work with both abhyasa and vairagya.
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Finding inspiration on the mat when practicing alone can be difficult. The following sequence will help you work with both abhyasa and vairagya.

Yoga Journal co-founder Judith Hanson Lasater, PhD, and her daughter, Lizzie Lasater, have partnered with YJ to bring you a six-week interactive online course on Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra. Through study of this fundamental text, the Lasaters, with more than 50 years of combined teaching experience, will support you in deepening your practice and broadening your understanding of yoga. Sign up now for a transformative journey to learn, practice, and live the sutra.

We all feel better after taking a yoga class, yet finding inspiration on the mat when practicing alone can be more difficult. Cultivating a home practice certainly requires commitment, but it also requires softness—
a quality that urges us to let go of our physical, mental, and emotional attachment, whether it’s a desire to get into a certain pose or a too-tight grip on a certain outcome we’re hoping our practice will provide.

In his classic Yoga Sutra, Patanjali provides a few verses that speak directly to these seemingly opposing aspects of our yoga practice. After defining yoga as “a state in which the fluctuations of the mind are no longer dominant,” he states that freedom from these fluctuations comes from “consistent practice and supreme detachment.” These two guiding concepts—abhyasa (determined effort, i.e., consistent practice) and vairagya (detachment)—can become the key to noticing and then releasing any resistance you might encounter around establishing your home practice. The following sequence will help you work with both abhyasa and vairagya, urging you to honor both strength and surrender, courage and calm.