There is a common concern practitioners have about making progress on the path of yoga. We often reassure them that 'progress' has a different meaning in yoga. It is like taking a bath. What do you gain from taking a bath? Probably not much. But what do you lose? You lose fatigue, discomfort and dirt. It's the same with yoga. If we look at it as an acquisitive process, we will come up short and be hard on ourselves. But if we look at it as a process of losing things...things within us that no longer serve us, then we can be more in tune with yoga's true purpose, and recast our idea of progress.
So, what does one lose in yoga? There's no better way to explain this than the parable with the Buddha. Someone once asked the Buddha skeptically, “What have you gained through meditation?” The Buddha replied, “Nothing at all. But, let me tell you what I lost through meditation: sickness, anger, depression, insecurity, the burden of old age, the fear of death. That is the good of meditation, which leads to nirvana.”
This is the secret of yoga. It brings us face to face with what is holding us down - flawed perception, fear, ego, desire, the need for control - and, over time, allows us the clarity to lose it.