S?dhana (Sanskrit ????; Tibetan: ??????????, THL: druptap; Chinese: ??), literally a means of accomplishing something, is a generic term coming from the yogic tradition and it refers to any spiritual exercise that is aimed at progressing the s?dhaka towards the very ultimate expression of his or her life in this reality. It includes a variety of disciplines in Hindu, Buddhist, Jain and Sikh traditions that are followed in order to achieve various spiritual or ritual objectives.
S?dhana can also refer to a tantric liturgy or liturgical manual, that is, the instructions to carry out a certain practice.
A contemporary spiritual teacher and yogi Sadhguru defines s?dhan? thusly:
Everything can be sadhana. The way you eat, the way you sit, the way you stand, the way you breathe, the way you conduct your body, mind and your energies and emotions – this is sadhana. Sadhana does not mean any specific kind of activity, sadhana means you are using everything as a tool for your wellbeing.
The historian N. Bhattacharyya provides a working definition of the benefits of s?dhan? as follows:
[R]eligious s?dhana, which both prevents an excess of worldliness and molds the mind and disposition (bh?va) into a form which develops the knowledge of dispassion and non-attachment. S?dhan? is a means whereby bondage becomes liberation.
B. K. S. Iyengar (1993: p. 22), in his English translation of and commentary to the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, defines s?dhana in relation to abhy?sa and kriy?:
S?dhana is a discipline undertaken in the pursuit of a goal. Abhy?sa is repeated practice performed with observation and reflection. Kriy?, or action, also implies perfect execution with study and investigation. Therefore, s?dhan?, abhy?sa, and kriy? all mean one and the same thing. A s?dhaka, or practitioner, is one who skillfully applies...mind and intelligence in practice towards a spiritual goal.