yoga philosophy in daily life

Yoga Philosophy in daily life

The day I inscribed at Tirisula yoga for the 200 hr TTC I had never heard of the eight limbs of yoga. I decided to join and got the philosophy-, the asana-, and the anatomy book from Paalu and took them home to start studying.

Since three years I had been practising yoga, or should I say asana’s, without ever looking deeper into it. So the book about philosophy was going to be a hard cookie I thought. All the Sanskrit names dazzled me and I did not realize the meaning of it.  Probably Paalu and Wei Ling had dealt with students like me before, so the first chapter is all about the mind of the aspirant (me!). “Begin with an open mind, let go of your preconceptions, don’t hesitate because of duties towards family and more obstacles that will come up in your mind”. That helped me a lot to keep on reading, back and forth, until the names got some initial meaning.

Still, my interest was more focussed on the asana’s. Until after the first week…..

Every morning after a few hours of hard work, we spend the afternoon listening to Paalu of Wei Ling, and it could not have been any more interesting and enjoyable than that. For hours in a row, we got tons of new information, and not a glimpse of fatigue, no yawning, just focussing.

So I did like the philosophy! Even better, after the explanation, I understood what was written in the book. The first two limbs of yoga we discussed, Yama and Niyama, tell us how to treat others and how to treat yourself.

Class mates in this course all have very different backgrounds, cultures and religions, but still, most of the yama’s and niyama’a appeal to all of us. They speak to us about non violence, none stealing, love for one’s fellow man etc. These fundaments can be found in Buddhist, Christian, Muslim and all other religions and non religions, they are actually very “normal” or “common” senses that a lot of the people in this world not only know, but also try to live by. Sometimes learning is only highlighting what we already know!

So you can practise yoga every day, without knowing you do so. Let’s go through all yama’s and see how they work in daily life;

Imagine you are doing groceries in the supermarket. It is crowded and you accidentally bump into somebody. The person immediately starts to scold you. You decide not to scold her, but listen to it and let it go (ahimsa).  Then in your head you could think the most terrible thoughts about this person, but none of them are true, because you don’t know the real reasons why she scolded you (she’s feeling sad, her mother is very ill, she is in a rush for an appointment etc). If you want to speak truthfully (satya) you can stick to the facts and say; “it is quite crowded here, isn’t it?”

You walk on through the aisles and notice that somebody is flirting with you; he is looking at you and trying to make conversation. Since you are already married and not interested in a fling, you decide not to react on these advances and keep your energy for yourself and turn around (brachmachanya).

You look at your grocery list and see that you’re done when you pass the chocolates and start doubting if you should buy some. You decide only to buy what you need, and leave the rest (aparigraha).

You cook for friends that night. After dinner they ask you for your recipe, and tell you that you are a fantastic cook. But actually is wasn’t you who came up with the idea and you didn’t cook, so you tell them that you appreciate that they liked the food, but that they should thank somebody else for it (asteya).

How about the 5 principles of niyama is daily life?

Let’s take a student of tirisula yoga. She is doing the 200 hours course. She comes every morning, showered and fresh. She had a very healthy breakfast and before starting the class, she will sweep the room and the yoga mat. (saucha). She is satisfied that she listened to herself and made the decision to join the course, while sweeping the floor there are no disturbing thoughts in her mind and she feels content and balanced (santhosa). It is still early in the morning and normally she would not be up yet.  But she likes the morning asana’s and the energy she gets from it, so she decides to continue this practise as often and as long as she will live. She has to be more disciplined, because until now she practised only once or twice a week and she knows she can do better than that (tapas).  She thought about herself and what she wanted to do with her life after this course, and why she intended in the first place. She became aware of some insights she had never thought of before and with this new self understanding she felt closer to herself (swadhyaya).  The class started and she begins to do her mantra and Ohm sound. She closes off her mind and focus fully on what she is doing. She is not comparing herself to her classmates, but gives her very best for that day (ishvara pranidhana).

The practice of the yama’s and the niyama’s can be so small it fits your yoga mat, and it can be as big as the universe.  You decide how to use them and feel like a part of the ecosystem, of the whole and how it makes you aware of yourself.