What is the ultimate purpose of doing yoga? In yogic terms it is to discover ones dhamma or one’s reason for existence
In short, why are you here, now? Why did your Self choose to incarnate in your body at this time in these circumstances?
Most of us came to yoga to become healthier in body or emotions. The physical asana or poses were the carrot that drew us through the studio door. Once in the studio and on the mat, we found that yoga offered additional benefits. We felt more alive and relaxed after class. Our moments of quiet reflection brought with them a sense of inner kindness and ease with others as well. Some named those feelings unity with God. Others said simply that they had become kinder.
As our practice of yoga deepens over time, we experience certainty that yoga is a means to evolve in personal transformation and relationship with higher things.
Initially, we may have glimpses of the deeper workings of yoga. So it is important that we set up the practice each day to serve the higher purpose. That is known as setting our intention. When we make our purpose for each practice clear, we bring the juice of that day’s goal to life Then we can pull something out for that day as well as for our dhamma, or life’s mission.
To begin your daily practice, set up a ritual which separates you from the mundane activities of life. It could be as simple as sitting upright in a comfortable pose and observing the breath and dominant thoughts for 5 minutes. Some yoginis like to chant, others like to offer a prayer and there are some who light a candle, burn incense or some combination of these means to create sacred space. That is the context for practice.
Then set the intention. It can be a physical focus such as stretching hamstrings or opening the muscles of the shoulder girdle. Or it can be a sequence of poses which are designed to create a specific effect in the body/mind. Breath work or pranayama is another focus. Practice sequences are legion in number.
Now check to see that the intention is consistent with what you understand to be your life’s mission .You may have more than one. Your roles and relationships may be both the focus as well as the purpose around which you spend your life’s energy. Or your calling may be less personal and more community based. In the latter stages of life you may find that you are working on your spiritual development with deliberate intention.
Ask yourself each day, " Why am I here?"
Yoga works from the outside to the inside. If you persist with this greatest of all questions, the answers will come. At first they may seem small and of little consequence beyond the daily matters of life. Remember you are learning to ask and then listen to the answers.
There is a kind of "ecology of the spirit" which means we are all connected and related. A story has made the rounds of yoga discussions of a monk who came from Japan with little English. He was asked to begin training for a new group of students of yoga and meditation. He decided to stand in front of each student, one by one. He neither smiled nor spoke nor moved in any way to diffuse the focus as he brought deep connection to each. Some were moved to tears by the acknowledgment of the higher Self.
These connections are more than cellular and individual. They interpenetrate all matter and each life form. When we know our place in the web of life, we can support it with yoga practice.