Abhyasa means having an attitude of persistent effort to attain and maintain a state of stable tranquility.
Practice is the effort to secure steadiness.
This practice becomes well-grounded when continued without interruption over a long period of time.
What does Patañjali mean by practice. Near the beginning of the Yoga Sutras, he gives us some solid, practical advice.
Initially, the goal of yoga is to steady the mind, to clear it of chatter and random impulses. He defines practice (abhyasa) as the effort of will required to achieve stability in that calm and clear state, though not without significant effort:
You may start to feel the benefits of your practice immediately, but you are only going to become well-grounded in the practice—able to summon up a calm and clear state with minimum effort, or even find yourself living permanently in a state of mental ease—after much dedicated effort. Patañjali has something to say about just this point:
The goal is near for those who practice with extreme intensity.
Thus, there will be a difference if the effort put into practice is mild, moderate or great.
8 hours a day, 2 hours a day, three times a week is a lot of asana and out of reach for most. But, of course, the physical practice is only a small part of the equation. The simple techniques we learn and refine in the context of the physical practice we can take out into our daily life, commuting to work, waiting in line at the store, interacting with our coworkers, our family and loved ones. The entirety of your life can become a yoga practice, the hours of training the mind to achieve expertise and mastery of the state of living, moment by moment. And it is the quality of your practice that is important not the quantity.
Come and get some good quality practice in this week with me and your fellow yogis, and achieve the true feeling of Abhyasa (attitude of persistent effort to attain and maintain a state of stable tranquility).
X om shanti