Sraddha virya smrti samadhi prajna purvaka itaresam (Sutra I. 2 0)

Sutra 1:20 Practice with “faith and vigour, and memory as a guide to leap forward with wisdom, total absorption, awareness and attention”.   These are the inner supports, or vitamins of practice, says BKS Iyengar.  Patanjali writes that they are the upaya pratyaya – the fundamental means to practice.

How do we build faith and trust in our yoga practice?

Little by little, with awareness, time and care.  Whether it is from teachers, or our own practice, we build experience; we notice a little more, and from there, we  know a little more, our knowledge deepens, revelations occur, our memory recalls these clarifying experiences, and our energy, excitement and even devotion to the practice increases to experience what might happen next!   So, each time we practice we are taking in these vitamins. They build upon and give rise to one another. 

Sraddha is the foundation of the other 4.  Sraddha is trust – Vyasa writes that faith holds the seeker through the many phases of practice in the same way that a loving mother would hold her child.   From my own experience, my initial trust in a yoga practice came when I felt less pain in an injured area, reassured by new strength physically and mentally, less stress, better sleep, stronger muscles etc.  we develop the confidence to continue.  

To build trust in something  requires evidence over a period of time that things are working out beneficially, even if we don’t know quite how, or did not know what to expect at the beginning.  Rohit Metha says that “ faith is not blind belief.  It is a sensitive response to the intimations of the unknown”.     BKS Iyengar adds – “Sraddha should not be understood simply as faith, “it also conveys mental and intellectual firmness.  If trust is instinctive, faith is intuitional.”

The 5 vitamins:

1. Sraddha – trust,  from revelation, faith,  confidence, reverence 

2. Virya – vigour, physical and moral strength, mental power, energy

3. Smrti – memory, recollection

4. Samadhi –  profound meditation, supreme devotion,perfect absorption of thoughts 

5. Prajna – awareness of real knowledge acquired through intense contemplation previous, prior, first another, rest, different from,

(taken from BKS Iyengar’s commentary on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

Patanjali advises that faith is built on prajna  “ a clear memory of facts”, from here “a right memory”(smrti)  is developed “not a memory that is overlaid with psychological associations.” (Metha).  “Strange though it may seem, right memory releases one’s energy (virya) which is otherwise locked up in the tangle of psychological associations.  Thus the spiritual (person) rooted in right memory and possessing immeasurable energy is inspired by faith”. (Metha)

BKS Iyengar concludes “The natural trust of the aspirant is confirmed by revelation, and transformed into the faith which permeates the consciousness of practitioners in any field of art, science and philosophy.”