Abhyasa vs Sadhana

by Christine Rondeau

Following her 3 day workshop, Gabriella Giubilaro spent a half day with 20 or so teachers and teacher trainees. During this time, we had the opportunity to ask questions and look at specific poses and issues. I was very inspired by what Gabriella had to say about our practice.

abhyāsa vairāgyābhyāṃ tannirodhaḥ
practice and detachment are the means to still the movements of consciousness.

Gabriella reminded us, that as teachers, our practice is our primary teacher. Only by understanding our own bodies and it’s limitations can we start to understand how to help our students. She then proceeded to tell us about the difference between abhyasa and sadhana. When looking at the translation of abhyasa and sadhana both translate to practice. But the practice differs.

Abhyasa is practice by repetition. In our time together with Gabriella, we spent over an hour practicing Utthita Trikonasana. We looked at moving the skin of our feet, extending and lifting the toes of the front foot, lifting the back thigh more and more and moving the femur into the socket of the hip, observing the pelvis, etc.… All of these refinements, were carried out in the same pose but they taught us different aspect of the pose. This is abhyasa. It’s repeated practice, but not mechanical practice. The intent of abhyasa is to learn how the body works and how to bring life and energy to all parts of it.

Sadhana also means practice, but the person doing their sadhana is on a path. Thus this practice is more encompassing and it involves all eight limbs of yoga and devotion. This devotion is up to you. It can be yoga, God or any other spiritual path.

It’s important to keep a steady practice, one’s practice and self study is never over and we owe it to our students to bring our best selves forward.

About the Author

Christine completed her studies in 2019 under the guidance of Louie Ettling and Patricia Fernandes at the Yoga Space. She first discovered yoga in early 2000. Since then, she’s tried various forms of yoga but none captured her interest as much as Iyengar Yoga.

The discipline and knowledge is what keeps her coming to her mat every day.