Without diving WAY deep into this topic (because I am sure I could write a novel on this) I've got two questions for you:
What inspired you to practice Yoga?
How has your practiced shifted since then?
Have you already discovered self growth since you first started practicing yoga? Have you learned that there is WAY more than just the physical practice (ASANA) involved?
Have you learned more about yourself?
Learned to love yourself more?
Learned to slow down your thoughts and connect with your breath?
Learn to be more patient and kind with others?
How has your perspective of Yoga shifted since you were first introduced to what you thought was YOGA ?
Whether you have been practicing for years or are fairly new to the practice of yoga, I wanted to take the time to share WHAT Yoga truly is and how we can cultivate this practice by reminding ourselves (DAILY) of how we can incorporate particular principles and guidelines in order to live a meaningful and purposeful life.
Let’s start with the 5 Yamas: This is the first vow of Patanjali's 8 fold path/ 8 Limbs of Yoga, and a powerful one at that. I will make this as short and sweet as I can and share with you ways in which you could invite these principles into your life to allow for growth and appreciation of all that life throws your way. Oh how beautiful it is to simply exist.
There are 5 Yamas, all of which add to the overall way you live your life with a sense of integrity and discipline towards the moral values you hold/ how you see the world around you, and how you live your life in order to serve yourself and in turn ... serve others.
The five Yamas:
1. Ahimsa (non-violence): in your actions, in your words, in your thoughts.
Judgment, negativity, comparison, jealousy, disrespect, neglect - these are all forms of violence whether it be on to yourself or others. Whether it be in the words you share out loud, in the thoughts in your mind, in your actions, they all add heaviness to this world and they are sometimes really hard patterns to break. But it starts with observance, and wanting to change. Slowing down to recognize when you have embodied HIMSA (harm/violence) and take the time to create a shift, take a different route, challenge yourself to see things through a new lense.
2. Satya (truthfulness): again, where can you invite more truthfulness?
In your thoughts: are you allowing yourself to accept what is true for you, what your intuition is telling you, or are you fearful of the truth and trying to convince yourself of otherwise?
In your words: are you projecting words and thoughts that are authentic and true? Or are you sharing thoughts you heard from others? Are you speaking just to be heard? Are your words serving yourself and others around you?
In your actions: What is the intention behind your actions? Maybe ask yourself: why did I do ____ and what was my root cause for doing so. Did it benefit myself and those around me?
3. Asteya (non-stealing): Not just the physical form of stealing but how can you become more aware of others ways you may take away from others?
Can you lend an open ear. Listen more. Allow for others to share. Can you be more present when spending time with others, especially when they are investing time and energy into being with you. Are your actions solely based on what you will get out of it/ “what’s in it for me?”
4. Brahmacharya (how you use your energy): How much of yourself are you giving giving giving or how little are you sharing?
Are you ending your day with your cup half empty or half full? This is all up to you my friend. This is in your control. How much of yourself you give to others is your choice. This builds strength and commitment to yourself, self love and self worth.
5. Aparigraha (non-greed): Greediness is a form of selfishness.
Most of our thoughts throughout the day are based around: I, me, myself. Actions and intentions are driven by what we want for ourselves. Although it is important to love on yourself and make choices that will support you in your life, can you allow for thoughts of serving others to leak in. Can you bring in small acts of kindness wherever you go and to whomever you meet. Can you spread some light and love and add to a beautiful ripple effect that WE have the power to create in this world.
This is just ONE of the 8 limbs of yoga, and as you may have noticed it does not include asana (physical practice). Yoga is a way of living. Yoga is a practice of evolving, shifting, exploring the inner self.
Let’s look at four more principles that you may want to invite into your life. Don Miguel Ruiz offers us four tools we can use to develop more inner peace, freedom, and in turn connect with what it feels like to live a life you LOVE.
1. Be impeccable with your word
Is what your saying truthful and purposeful? Is it serving you and others around you? Are there ways that you can slow down and maybe analyze what you want to say before you say it? What emotion is tied to your words? Are they going to shed light and love on yourself and others or is there a better outlet for you to let go of something rather than to project on to others.
2. Don’t take anything personally
You have control over you and only you. What someone else decides to do or say is out of your control. Even if someone “blames” you for the way they are feeling or the reason they did ____ , ultimately it is coming from a struggle within themselves and you are not responsible. If you can practice recognizing that others opinions and actions have nothing to do with you, then you can work towards freeing yourself of the suffering involved in attaching yourself to the reasons your friends or family are choosing to do ____ or handle a situation in a certain way.
3. Don’t make assumptions
We see miscommunication all the time but especially in this day and age with texting and emails. We can’t possibly understand the true emotion and reasoning behind a written message, so why try to analyze and break it down? We also don't have superhero powers and cant read each other's minds - so why attempt ? When we guess a reason as to why or how someone is feeling or why he/she did _____ , we then base our thoughts and actions off of that assumption and this can create one big mess. CLEAR. COMMUNICATION. Is all you need. SAY what you mean and MEAN what you say. ASK. If you don’t understand or dont agree with something, invite more communication into the mix. Free yourself from any drama, sadness, anger attached to miscommunication,
4. Always do your best
When we do our best and “give it our all” we feel GOOD, and that energy vibrates on to others around us! Be flexible and understanding that your best is not always going to look the same and that it is also depending on what's been going on in your life. Let go of comparison. Your best is not going to look like someone else's. You have your own path to focus on. Self judgement will not serve you. Be proud of who you are, how far you've come, and know that each and every new day is another opportunity to explore what’s inside of you. What you have to offer. What makes you happy and brings you joy. This life is yours to create.
I hope these tools and guidelines can help you along your path. They sure have helped me. Remember that this is a practice in its own, and that we can’t create change all at once. If we can practice slowing down, and incorporate these principles in all that we share: in speech, in action, in thought - then we can provide ourselves and those around us with more kindness, love and joy. We can create a better world. It starts with you.