Yogic principles in my everyday life
From our study of Yama -Disappearance of all suppressions – which is the first of the “The Eight Limbs of Yoga” I found there were two principles that I found very poignant and therefore want to remember to integrate into my daily life moving forward.
1. Ahimsa is in the broadest sense can be defined as “non violence” to another human or animal and acting with love of all. On first reflection I found it difficult to understand the deeper meaning of this as I was focussing on the physical and other than killing the odd mosquito or spider I couldn’t see how violence could relate to myself..
However on closer look Ahimsa is a far more sophisticated concept with far more subtle meanings to consider in everyday life. These are the meanings that I would like to be more mindful of in my life.
Non violence in respect of animals
Importance of Vegetarianism – Although I have been a vegetarian on and off since I was young it made me think more deeply of the “violence” caused by eating meat and as a consequence I feel far more committed to not eating meat moving forward.
Non violence in respect of humans.
Importance of non violent speech to others and oneself – I found this a very subtle but important use of Ahimsa as although I try not to say harmful or violent things to others sometimes when in a challenging circumstance I find my interior monologue can easily be pretty unproductive and harmful to myself. A lot of us can regularly find ourselves being our own harshest critiques and the application of Ahimsa in this way was a good reminder to be kind to oneself.
2. Satya can be most simply defined as truthfulness but once again the meaning has a far greater reach in everyday life. Although I don’t make a habit of habitually lying by any means there are times where it can appear easier to not be 100% truthful with ourselves and others. Even though these are generally only harmless excuses or “white lies” I want to be far more aware of this moving forward as it is much better practice to be honest or alternatively not say anything at all.
The other meaning of Satya that struck me as very important is “living the truth” or living authentically. I know from my own experience that often we are afraid and therefore hold back from areas of ourselves that we are scared to reveal. This is usually due to a lack of confidence, fear of what others may think and/or because the aspect in question may contradict to social norm. The use of Satya in this context reminds us that as long as we aren’t harming ourselves or others that it is healthy, invigorating and refreshing to truly allow ourselves to be who we are and not what others expect we should be. Being authentic as a person not only puts yourself at ease but also others around you as it creates a relaxed and honest energy. It essentially gives you permission to shine unapologetically in all your unique glory (whatever that my be) as there is only one you so it is good to set yourself free 🙂
The second arm of “The Eight Limbs of Yoga” is Niyama, understood as the freedom from all observations or more simply the principles a Yoga teacher should follow. I found that all of these five principles were incredibly valuable to learn and that I actually experienced the need to implement most of them at different times over the last month to help me in the course.
Saucha – Purity of thoughts
Thinking well of yourself, others and the world, not getting caught up in negativities (no matter what form they may take) or gossip and looking for the positive and good in all situations.
Santosha / Contentment
This ability to have equanimity in life is one that is challenging as most of have preferences and are easily lead by external factors including our senses and emotions which trigger both highs and lows. I have experienced this many times along the way while doing the YTT. One example was the day I got up into a headstand for the first time and was incredibly happy, invigorated and proud of myself and then was called to cue sun salutations (which I did terribly!) and within moments felt sad, totally demotivated and incapable.
It was a real lesson to not get too swept up in external matters or material objects (good or bad) but instead focus on carrying on walking your path whilst maintaining a calm, humble peacefulness within whatever goes on, much like a tree grounded in the earth whatever the weather conditions may be.
Tapas / Austerities transform impurities
This principle is often defined as self discipline and performing positive duties. The course has been invaluable as we have all (whether it usually comes naturally or not) had to work very hard and be even more disciplined and regimented than in our usual every day life. This has been particularly challenging for me due to having a baby because I found it even harder than usual to keep my routine and self-discipline strong when enjoying very little sleep and always having to be flexible to study around my daughters needs (which are often changeable) not just my own.
However the course has really helped me to establish far stronger self discipline and encouraged me to really rise to challenges and keep going against adversities. I am very grateful of this as it is not until you are pushed that you realise how strong you really are. I also really appreciated the opportunity to re priorities my days as I believe I had lost focus on what things served me, my daughter and my husband best best. I have loved making asans, pranayama, meditation and study priorities in my daily routine and want to keep this practice up.
Swadhyaya – Self study
Being very honest and healthily critical of yourself so you can progress with your own evolution. Looking practically and rationally at your own bad habits and patterns; how certain things affect you, your emotions and reactions because by looking at these you will be able to understand and therefore change behaviours moving forward.
Ishwara-pranidha – Worship of the Lord within us, surrender of ego
Through meditation I suppose this is a work in progress…