What Is Sadhana?

साधन

Sadhana Definition

Originating in the Hindu, Jain, and Buddhist traditions, sadhana is most commonly understood as daily spiritual practice, or the means of realizing.

It is made from the Sanskrit root word “sadh,” meaning a tool or practice to achieve a goal, or going directly to the goal.

Some sources claim the word also incorporates “dhana,” meaning treasure, wealth, or riches.

a woman counting prayer beads sitting cross legged in jeans

Sadhana Deep Dive

“the idea of doing sadhana is that all your questions will burn, not that you’ll find answers.”

– Jaggi Vasudev, aka Sadhguru.

Yoga’s claim to universality and inclusiveness is strengthened by concepts such as sadhana, because daily spiritual practice means different things to different people. And while it is certainly undertaken with varying levels of enthusiasm, effort, and ability, it is undoubtedly for everybody.

Anything you practice daily with the goal of enriching your spiritual life may count as sadhana.

  • It could be mindfully practicing asanas.
  • It could be the prayers you say as part of your religious practice.
  • It could be meditating, reciting mantras, or reading scriptures.

For some, the goal is more specific than spiritual enrichment. They may want to get closer to God. They may want moksha, mukti, samsara, ego death, or enlightenment.

What is important is that the practice is repeated methodically, mindfully, and reflected upon. And this takes a measure of discipline.

Various spiritual traditions and religions include some form of daily spiritual practice.

It’s the way Sikhs begin their day by waking up before dawn, bathing, and meditating. It’s the way Christians say grace before a meal. It’s in the three daily prayers of a Jewish person, and the five daily prayers of a Muslim. It’s attending a gurdwara, church, mosque, synagogue, temple, or other place of worship.

It just depends on your intention.

For some, any action dedicated to a spiritual goal and conducted with methodical discipline is sadhana. This may include selfless service such as work, volunteering, and household duties. For others, journaling, coloring, painting, playing an instrument, and other artistic endeavors do the trick.

Any circumstance can be a situation that fosters your spiritual growth – if you are mindful. In this sense, as some claim, everything can be sadhana. From the way you eat, sit, stand, and breathe, to the way you conduct yourself in the world.

Tantric Sadhana

In certain Hindu and Buddhist tantric practices, the term sadhana refers specifically to practices that follow the guidance of ritual texts. These guided practices evoke absorption into and identification with deities, and involve intense visualization, mantras, and mudras.

a woman in childs pose on a yoga mat, practicing sadhana

Sadhana In Your Life

Now that you know what sadhana is – even if you may be unsure what yours is – the question remains:

Why do it?

So many reasons; among them:

  • Feel more present
  • Feel inspired
  • Feel closer to the divine
  • Know yourself better
  • Develop discipline
  • Build a connection with a spiritual community
  • Challenge yourself

And consider the emerging evidence that people with active spiritual lives are happier and healthier.

How to do it?

If you want a diploma or a degree in something, you undertake study or you start a course. If you want to learn a sport, you train often or attend lessons. If you want to be healthier, you adopt different eating habits, or exercise regularly.

Our spiritual muscles, so to speak, work the same way. They need flexing.

And then, the more you use it, the more it works. Eventually, your sadhana spreads into your life, beyond the 15 minutes, 30 minutes, or one hour you normally put into it. It grows, putting the being back into being spiritual.

a group of people practicing sadhana together by meditating

If you haven’t already built a foundation for spiritual practice, here’s the good news: you have a ton of options. Becoming a sadhaka gives you a veritable buffet of blessings to choose from.

Make it uniquely yours.

Hear the call of sadhana as a call to success.

At first, it may feel like one of those things you just can’t seem to fit into your day – even if it only takes a few minutes. Keep going!

If you’re doing it at home, it may help to create a beautiful space for yourself to practice. Candles. Incense. Your favorite scriptures. A comfortable rug, or yoga mats. Maybe a puja table. It may be the most important part of your day on the yoga journey of a lifetime.

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To go deep and expand your yogic knowledge, access our free Yoga Terms Encyclopedia, where we host a profound wealth of ancient and timeless yogic wisdom in an accessible modern format.

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Hailing from the Yukon, Canada, David (B.A, M.A.) is a yoga teacher (200-hour therapeutic YTT) and long-time student and practitioner of various spiritual disciplines including vedanta and Islam.

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