We come to our mats for myriad reasons. Usually physical health and well-being are the instigator of our intentions on our mats. “By taking this class, I will become more flexible and more healthy”, we think. While this is true, the benefits of yoga and it’s various expressions extend far beyond, “Hey, Look where I can put my foot!”.
This past week, we had the opportunity to explore the many various ways to take yoga off the mat and into our lives. One of the most important things to understand on our yoga journeys is our relationship to yoga, and it’s intrinsic relationship personally within each of us. According to Patanjali’s Eight Limbed Path, which builds and expands upon itself in order of importance of practice and application to daily life, Yama’s (yogic restraints) and Niyama’s (yogic observances) actually precede and provide the foundation for Asana (Yoga postures)! Yamas and Niyamas are, simply put, yogic practices and observances- the do’s and don’ts of a practiced yogi. We can use these inner practices and observances to more fully embody our yoga practice. Through ideals such as ahimsa– non-violence, satya– truthfulness, tapas– self-discipline, and Ishvara Pranidhana- surrendering to your innermost Self/ letting go, we come to learn ourselves better and become more attuned with the Universe around us.
So HOW do we embody these practices in our daily lives?
Once recurring theme that seemed to arise this weekend was COMMUNICATION. Recognizing that words have energy and working to harness that energy in a positive and meritorious benefit for ourselves and others. It’s interesting to consider drawing the yamas and niyamas into our daily lives even into something as simple as how we speak to ourselves and others! Rather than putting ourselves down, we can always build ourselves, and each-other, up. Often times, it is far too easy to focus on the negativity surrounding us, the “can’ts” instead of the “cans”. However, this is merely a state of mind. When we make a conscious decision to be happy, or harness the power of any positive intention, we embody that realization within ourselves, and we, and the world around us, both become a little brighter.
We can practice the Yamas and Niyamas in our daily lives as well. Perhaps we practice ahimsa by abstaining from meat, or choosing to only speak kindly about ourselves and others, recognizing that our words carry energy. We can even embody satya- truthfulness, by evaluating our intentions and motivations behind most of the things we do in our daily life. It’s interesting how actions can shift and change once you evaluate the energy and intention behind them. Tapas- self discipline- can be embodied in a number of ways. Even something as simple as showing up to your yoga mats or to a meditation class, at times takes great discipline! We can also honor the idea of tapas (Not the kind you eat!) by practicing moderation and restraint in some aspects of our lives. For example, while that second piece of chocolate cake would be delicious, is it really necessary?
In honor of the much-anticipated Colorado spring-time, both of our blissful retreats also included a planting project. Harnessing the power of intention and present awareness, as a group we sowed the seeds of positivity, light, and love as a physical representation of the myriad ways to Live your Yoga. As we watch our seeds sprout and transform into beautiful flowers and vegetables, we are reminded that we too are constantly growing, evolving, and changing. Like the Lotus flower, rising up out of it’s muddy home to share it’s magnificent beauty with the world, we too are growing from our present surroundings and routines, and the journey is beautiful. Living your yoga isn’t about mastering the perfect yoga pose, or sitting under a tree in Sukasana until Enlightenment happens. It’s about practicing mindfulness and heartfull-ness, keeping in mind Patanjali’s restraints and observances, and paying attention to yourself and your surroundings, reacting to everything around you in a way that promotes positivity and growth for everyone and everything. When we make a conscious decision to vibrate a little higher, the entire Universe benefits and rejoices.
“Yoga is the dance between the light and the dark. The light is what brings you back to your mat, and the darkness is what you uncover there. Do not be afraid of this darkness, these are only shadows, and though you’ll have to walk through some pretty dark alleys, remember you are grounded in the light, and the light will set you free. “
Sarah Hiller says
Thanks so much for this Haley! I really needed this today!
Kim Eck says
Glad you enjoyed it!