What Motivates Your Practice?

by | Sep 16, 2012 | Living Yoga, On Love | 6 comments

Having been connected with a spiritual community for the last 12 years, I have heard the best intending people express their wish to become enlightened in this lifetime.  I once asked an acquaintance when she said that she was going for it, meaning, enlightenment, what she would do when she actually got there… For what purpose was she seeking enlightenment?  She paused and said that she hadn’t considered it.

I don’t claim to have an answer, but I’m offering that it’s an important question to examine while still in the human experience.

What motivates me now, will shape the outcome of my pursuit. 

If my motivation is a heartfelt desire to know God, then I believe Divine knowledge will be of the experience.  If it’s to be of great service, then I believe the outcome will manifest this way.  But if motivated by power or selfishness, I don’t think I or the planet will benefit much, and I’m proposing that our spiritual practices: yoga, pranayama, meditation, japa, and puja, to name some,

are to move us toward being more conscious beings on the planet–enlightenment or not.

In the Hindu pantheon of gods and goddesses, Parvati, Shiva’s consort, is motivated by LOVE verses AMBITION.  The story goes that she had a huge crush on Shiva and was trying to get his attention.  Shiva was deep in meditation in the forest, and even though Parvati brought him food, drink, bathed his feet and what not, he never acknowledged her or even stirred from his meditation.

Having tried everything that she knew to win Shiva’s love, she retreated in frustration.  Although her love for Shiva had not changed, she changed her motivation, and instead of trying to win Shiva’s love, she began meditating on her love for God.  So beautiful, powerful and dedicated was Parvati in her mediation, that Shiva stirred from his own and fell in love with her.

But what motivates our practice? 

Ambition?  Well, yes, many students want to progress and many want to keep working toward a bigger or more difficult pose.

Maintenance is another motivator… if I go to yoga tonight, I know that my back won’t hurt tomorrow.   Also in the maintenance category; we go to return to our center and to take refuge from a complex world.

Recently, connection is what motivates me in my yoga practice.  I teach and go to class to connect with my friends, my students and those who want to feel good through the vehicle of the body in practice.  We all feel better after class, and life more rich as a result.  I like sharing this kind of space with my friends.

A student shared that once examined, her motivation in her practice was strictly ambition.  She went five and six times a week to class, turning down invitations for socializing until she realized that she had a really strong yoga practice, but was feeling very lonely.  Recognizing this, she sought more balance and now goes out with her friends and goes to yoga class.

She said she is still advancing in her practice but loving her life more.

I think it’s an important question to ask:  What motivates our practice?

What motivates us now will likely be of the experience and outcome of our pursuit. 

Make yours LOVE.


  1. Acequia Jardin

    I thought you would appreciate this:
    EVEN SO by Alice Walker

    Love, if it is love, never goes away.
    It is embedded in us,
    like seams of gold in the Earth,
    waiting for light,
    waiting to be struck.

    love you……….pamela

    • Bea Doyle

      HI Pamela, Thank you for the poem; it is absolutely beautiful… and true. Thank you for the radiant light that you beam out every time I see you. Love to you too. Bea

  2. Genevieve Oswald

    Hooray for Love!!! And Hooray for you!!!
    I read recently the the best teachers are not the ones who give you the best answers but rather the ones who ask the best questions.
    Thank you for being my teacher.

    • Bea Doyle

      HI Genevieve, And someone else said…. Live Your Question. I’ve always like that one too. Looking forward to seeing you at Shree in October.

  3. Krishna Nittala

    Hey Bea!!! I like this blog very much. Following the instincts ingrained through extended studentship, I wrote down a response and it turned out to be pretty big. I am listing out an excerpt below and emailing the rest.

    “…I have been practicing yoga for little more than a year now and I have seen some significant improvements in my overall health. Now, one could argue that the better eating habits that I developed during this time could have brought about the feeling of good health. However, that would be an exercise in glorifying correlation (good health and diet) at the sake of causation (yoga). My continuing practice is motivated both by the positive changes that yoga has brought about and by the continued scope for learning and improvement. However, the biggest motivator for me has always been the wonderful gurus that have adopted me through this time. ”

    – Krishna

    • Bea Doyle

      Hi K! Thanks for your message, both this excerpt and the full answer! I like your p.s. of how you feel a bit of being watched over by your Gurus and your connecting it to your Indian upbringing. I think I share your feelings having been brought up in a Catholic household! But serving the highest is a good thing, eh? I'm so glad that your practice is working for you. B


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