The most difficult aspect of yoga practice & .... 

The secret for regular practice 

I have heard the following words from many accomplished yoga asana and meditation teachers. "The most difficult part of the practice is actually getting on to the yoga mat (or meditation cushion)". If this task is accomplished, then there is instantaneously 50% success.

There are many ways yoga studios and teachers incentivize people to practice asanas regularly. These incentives may look like the promise of weight loss, a muscular/toned body, physical image and self esteem, general health improvement, better sleep, camaraderie, a social circle etc. etc. While most of these reasons are indeed noble and done with the most genuine of intents, they still fall short of motivating people to practice regularly. So why does a disconnect arise between this noble intent and the actual outcome ? This is best summarized by the following two shlokas from the Bhagavad Gita:

इन्द्रियाणां हि चरतां यन्मनोऽनुविधीयते |
तदस्य हरति प्रज्ञां वायुर्नावमिवाम्भसि || 2.67||

indriyāṇāṁ hi charatāṁ yan mano ’nuvidhīyate
tadasya harati prajñāṁ vāyur nāvam ivāmbhasi

"Just as a strong wind sweeps a boat off its chartered course on the water, even one of the senses on which the mind focuses can lead the intellect astray."

ये हि संस्पर्शजा भोगा दु:खयोनय एव ते |
आद्यन्तवन्त: कौन्तेय न तेषु रमते बुध: || 5.22||

ye hi sansparśha-jā bhogā duḥkha-yonaya eva te
ādyantavantaḥ kaunteya na teṣhu ramate budhaḥ

"The pleasures that arise from contact with the sense objects, though appearing as enjoyable to worldly-minded people, are verily a source of misery. O son of Kunti, such pleasures have a beginning and an end, so the wise do not delight in them."

What these shlokas means is that when we are attracted to pleasures through the senses, there is always a chance that it can distract us away from the desired goal. However, when the pleasure is non-sensual (not from the senses) but generated within from the yoga practice, then it will result in lasting happiness. This type of pleasure, not borne of the senses is called 'Hlada', in Sanskrit (Ref: Hlada : Pleasure not of the senses (How the great teachers of ancient times motivated people in their yoga practice)). 

All the yoga texts talk about this kind of pleasure not borne of sense objects. It is generated within and it is always available to us, if we are willing to put in the effort to settle the mind down to reach it. In the chapter on mudras, The Hatha Yoga Pradipika says, one should revel in the bliss that comes from engaging the mudras.

In the article titled "Prowess in Poses",  the ultimate revelation for an asana practitioner was described: "When asanas are practiced in this way, the practitioner will stumble upon the ultimate revelation - she/he will care far less about achieving perfection in the pose for a social media shot than about basking in the joy that comes from the pose, due to the flow of prana. What more, one will get the malleability to do complex twists and bends that one thought otherwise because of her/his inflexibility of the body".

The Subtler dimensions of asana practice workshops focus on how to use asanas to tap into the subtle joyful sensations in the body to cultivate this pleasure not borne of the senses. The focus of the second workshop, "Yoga Arudam or Establishing in Yoga", especially, is mind placement in yoga practice to kindle these subtle feelings and grow them into deeply joyful states.