In this modern world our yoga practice is usually integrated into a hectic and busy life alongside our career, family and household responsibilities, friends etc. What does this mean? That we might struggle to make it to the mat or when we do, we arrive depleted with scattered energy. When this happens, all of our focus and effort goes in to Cikitsa - recovery. Recovery from our hectic day, week, month, year, life. When we practice for recovery, the focus is on collecting and stabilizing our energy and by the end of the class we generally feel nourished and rejuvenated. How does this work? Asana when connected to breath helps us to access our prana energy which cultivates a greater sense of aliveness from within and frees up our energy.
At this level of practice, this effect is likely to be only fleeting as we do not really get the opportunity in a one hour class to deepen, contain and sustain that state. When we have contained energy we enter the second mode of practice, Raksana. When we practice yoga more consistently, our starting point is different. Our energy is more concentrated and less scattered so we don't need to start practice from the recovery mode. For many practitioners Citkitsa will be will be their only experience, a movement back and forth between scattered energy and recovery. People can practice yoga for many years in this way without a great deal of substantial change in their life and are happy just using yoga to preserve a basic baseline of health.
For those that want more, that would like to move beyond this cycle of scattiness and recovery, that want to build a bigger storehouse of free energy we simply have to practice more regularly. Think of your practice as a savings account, the more you put in the more you have to take out. I can attest that the more you practice the more contained your energy and when you step on the mat you are not facing up to days, week’s or months worth of life stress to work through. Your energy is freer, more readily available to you to do the deeper work, to heal and for some to intensify which is the third mode of practice, Siksana, intense practice. The ancients say
"If you practice once a week, you will start to change the mind. If you practice twice a week, you will change your body. If you practice everyday, you will change your life."