Part 1 - Life through Yoga: The Social Principles
There are a lot of people taking yoga classes here in the western part of the world, and there are many different kinds of yoga classes being offered as well. It always surprises me that we in the west we believe yoga is an exercise. Yoga here is associated with the postures, also known as asanas in Sanskrit, and that's where most people's knowledge ends when it comes to yoga. Little do they know that yoga is a lifestyle. I'd like to introduce you to a few more concepts about yoga, and if you choose to practise these on a daily basis, then you just may get to experience what yoga truly is.
The Yamas are the guiding principles to follow that will lead us to a life of peacefulness and freedom. Each characteristic builds on the next. Let’s start:
1. Compassion (Ahimsa) - for all living things, including ourselves. Listen to your thoughts and how you talk to yourself. Is it supportive, kind and loving? The more non-violent your thoughts, the more peaceful you become, the more you will also be compassionate to your outside world, like other people, living things and the earthly environment. Continually ask yourself if your thoughts, actions and deeds are allowing for growth and well-being of every being involved?
2. Truthfulness (Satya) - this means not just speaking truth by words, but also being true to ourselves and all others involved. Much of this starts with choosing the best words. To further explain this topic, much of conversations are based on our imagination and often erroneous conclusions, not necessarily what we know to be true. A good example is gossip; it hurts every being. The hardest part is being true to ourselves. It is something that lies deep in hearts and souls, places we easily get distracted from with life's daily distractions. Check in regularly, even before speaking the truth, and ask what the right words are and does your choice allow you to live in peace.
3. Not stealing (Asteya) - not taking what is not yours. But this principle goes further, it also means not taking more than what you need. Choosing to take more than needed means you are feeling lack, and that results in buying more things to feel better. Look around your home and see all the gadgets and tools you have at your disposal. Act out of abundance rather than neediness. Start a gratitude journal and you may just find that you don't need all those things, what you need is your health.
4. Merging with Oneness (Brahmacharya) - merging our energy with that of God. This relates to the energy that we have in our physical bodies and how we choose to use it. Again, if we look at the bigger picture, then we can merge into oneness just by feeling the air move through our lungs and allowing us to breathe and feel alive; or by feeling the blood being pumped around our body and limbs to connect all parts into the one body we have. Sexual energy can also lead to a great deal of merging, so the question becomes how you use your sexual energy. It's not to be used to hurt others but instead bring you closer to God, and only you can decide whether celibacy or procreation is best for you.
5. Not Holding on to (Aparigraha) – holding on to things makes us feel certain and secure, but life changes all the time and requires us to adapt. The more we hold on to things and images of how we and others are, the more painful and troublesome it is to adjust to life’s constant change. Stop resisting change, allow it to change you to grow. After all, life is just an experience.