The Sanskrit word for faith is sraddha, which is also translated as confidence and trust. B.K.S. Iyengar writes in his book, Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, “Sraddha should not be understood simply as faith. It also conveys mental and intellectual firmness. Interestingly, Patanjali’s first use of the word sraddha is explicitly to encourage the sadhaka [practitioner] to intensify his sadhana [practice] in order to reach the highest goal.”
The easiest way for me to connect with faith is to simply show up for my practice both on and off my mat. I’m reminded almost instantaneously the path is hard. These days, it feels overwhelming if not impossible. Faith keeps me going. When I’m grounded in faith, I not only believe in what I’m doing, I have the confidence to do it with an open heart.
But how do we cultivate faith when our faith has been shaken? How do we hold space for faith in our classroom when we are full of doubt?
I don’t have the answer, but I’m drawn to Iyengar’s words—that faith can encourage us to double down on our efforts to reach the goal. What if we could also apply this idea to small goals that move us towards the “highest goal” Iyengar mentions? An act of kindness, a moment of gratitude, the choice to be patient? What if we could reconnect with faith by recommitting to our purpose? In that way, discipline becomes a key component of faith.
Ramanand Patel defines discipline as being a disciple of something. To that end, I’d like to leave us with some big questions. What are you a disciple of? What do you believe in? What does faith mean to you?
Sitting with these questions is an important step because it inspires a sense of personal responsibility to nurture our relationship with faith. As yoga teachers, our teaching has the power to inspire faith—in the practice, the process, and in ourselves. But like everything else, we must walk our talk. To inspire faith, we must first cultivate it for ourselves.
I’m excited and honored to explore this with you.