By Gopi Rao
Should Yoga practitioners establish goals? In short, my answer is: Yes. That said let me explain why. There is a school of thought, within Yogic circles, which discourages the establishment of goals. You may have heard that teachers shouldn’t accept money, students shouldn’t compete, and you shouldn’t compare yourself to others. While this is all well and good, this is the 21st century and living a life of being unattached to outcome is likely to get you fired from your job – if you still have a job. Not being attached to outcome could cost your life, family, or friends. Just think about it! If we drive cars and we are not worried about outcome, pity the pedestrians and the other drivers on the road. This concept would make a great action movie with fire, explosions, and worse. Even if you are a monk, you need to be attached to the outcome of food and water.
People practice for all different reasons. Some people practice to get into shape, others do it to help eliminate stress. In regards to the question “Should Yoga practitioners establish goals?” the answer is often, “yes!” Setting goals in Yoga can improve a person’s journey by keeping them focused and it helps practitioners to maintain their practice through motivation. Achieving one’s goals can add to the sense of enjoyment that practicing brings. It can also help a person strive to evolve and reach higher goals as their practice evolves. Setting goals help to give purpose to the practice of Yogic methods and life itself.
Let’s just say for the sake of argument that someone starts Yoga to get into better shape. For many people, that goal means losing extra weight or inches around certain problems areas, including the waist. Some people may achieve this through Bikram or Hot Yoga classes. Bikram is a fascinating style of Yoga that is practiced in a room set at a specific temperature (105 degrees and 40% humidity). The workout is two hours long and very intense. Hot Yoga is a little different than Bikram, with the differences being in room temperature and the number of poses. However, both of them encourage the body to sweat, which in turn can release water weight and toxins.
Of course, that doesn’t mean practitioners have to always rely on intense asana sessions in order to garner results. Another type of Yoga, which is the mother style of Bikram and many more styles is called Hatha. In fact, Hatha is the most popular physical style practiced worldwide, which is good for stretching the body, establishing strength and gaining flexibility. It also uses meditation as a tool to help clear the mind and eliminate stress. All of those are common goals in one’s practice as well. Establishing goals in life is common practice and setting goals within practice is certainly not unusual.
Yoga is also practiced just for the sheer enjoyment of it. It certainly is not always practiced as a means to an end, but knowing that it can be used to attain goals is certainly a positive aspect. For many people, the practice of Yoga is a way of life and can be a way for them to maintain harmony and balance within themselves. Now, let’s get back to the question: “Should Yoga practitioners establish goals?” A world without goal setting would have laziness as the ultimate lifestyle. No need for jobs, Yoga, motivation, inspiration, or innovation. We could stay in bed all day and not bother to answer the bill collectors. What a dream world it would be! So, the ultimate goal would be complete laziness and that leads us to a paradox. You see, lazy people have the goal of doing nothing. As for me, I’m going back to practice to set an intention and enjoy my goals, which are based on action.
© Copyright – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
Click here to see our online Yoga Nidra teacher training course.
Are you an experienced teacher looking for YACEP credits or continuing education?
52 Essential Principles of Yoga Philosophy to Deepen your Practice
by Rina Jakubowicz.
A Relaxing Way to De-stress, Re-energize, and Find Balance
by: Gail Boorstein Grossman.
by B.K.S. Iyengar
By Mark Stephens
Do you want to become a yoga teacher? See our selection of online yoga teacher training intensive courses.