Yoga philosophy

As people experience transition in the different stages of their life, they would start to take notice that the present state of their being, may or may not be where they want to or expect to be. The discrepancy may often cause a feeling of despair, lost of direction and motivation, general unhappiness and negative outlook upon life. This is commonly termed as a “quarter life crisis”, “mid life crisis” or so forth.

To general people, yoga is an exercise that helps you become fitter, more flexible, calmer and to meditate. However this is just the very surface of yoga, only the tip of the ice berg. It is only the attendance of the YTT course that I realize that there is theory and philosophy behind the practice or yoga. Hence yoga is formally addressed as a practice; it is the conscious performance and understanding of the performed activity.

The understanding of Yama, disappearance of all suppressions, refers to our own inward judgment, the judgments and expectations that we set internally for ourselves and feeling despair and useless if we fail to attain the set goals.

Understanding Yama teaches me and help me to understand that we should not be violent to ourselves, not just physically but more importantly mentally as well. Non violence means no hostility to self. Many times we don’t realize, but we are violent to ourselves by setting unrealistic high targets for ourselves, setting unrealistic standards of living for ourselves when we may not be able to afford the lifestyles. We may not be aware, but we are always inflicting violence on ourselves, mentally. By understanding ahimsa, I learn to accept and forgive myself for some of my flaws and be a bit more patient to myself to change or improve the flaw.

Satya is truthfulness, living the truth. In order to live the truth, we have to accept the truth. In order to change a flaw, we first have to accept and honestly admit internally that we have a flaw.

An example will be a person who has a drinking problem who refuses to admit and accept the problem. His conscious mind will keep telling himself that he just like to drink and can drink a lot. It is not a problem.
On the other hand, if he wants to practice Satya, he would admit the problem, accept internally he has a problem and he has to work towards the change.
Two very different results and outcome for a person based on whether he choose to be truthful to himself or not. It is not easy to practise Satya, even to self because we always tend to give reasons for the things we do to try to justify the action. However it is not Satya.

With every thought and every action, when we can really practise ahimsa and satya, then we may have a chance to get to contentment, aparigraha.

There is also Niyama, which is freedom from observances, which means free of judgment externally.

In Niyama, the first point is Saucha which means purity, not just the body but especially the mind. We should not be critical and judgmental towards other people, their reaction, the situation or the environment. Many times when we judge, it is often none of our business. Why get involved?

Santosha is the feeling of contentment. Which is something I hope I can have one day with lots of practise and understanding.

All the changes cannot happen if there is no Swadhyaya, self study. It is only when we understand ourselves deeply before we know what we want and can plan to work towards it.

In the extensiveness of yoga theory, these are the few points that really mean a lot to me and triggered my brain to think about life. I can say after many days of pondering, I hope some of the teaching do root and multiply growth in the development of me as a person.

 

Priscilla Loo