Using the “Yoga Sutras” to create a healthy and fulfilling life.
These guidelines, if applied mindfully, can be used in today’s modern world for positive growth. Below are a listing of the sutra’s and how they can be applied in your activities, school, and personal life for your fullest potential.
• Yamas: The practice of restraint, or actions that are best avoided. When practiced mindfully, they will make you aware of which behaviors to avoid that cause suffering. They are Ahimsa (not harming), Satya (being truthful), Asteya (not stealing), Aparigraha (not grasping), and Bramhmacharya (wasting energy).
• Practicing on the mat: Ahimsa: Never push yourself over the edge of pain. Treat your muscles, ligaments, and joints with respect. Satya: Be honest with yourself about how a pose feels and whether you should back off or go deeper. Asteya: Don’t attempt poses beyond your capability. Aparigraha: Understand where you are in your practice; don’t compare your poses with others. Brahmacharya: Stay within your personal limits.
• Practicing in your life: Ahimsa: Listen to what your body is telling you; It is the ultimate teacher. Don’t ignore the early signs of irritation in the body that may lead to an injury. Don’t bully or force someone to do something that will cause physical, emotional, or mental harm. Be smart on social media, because once you press send, you can’t erase the cyber- history you’ve left behind. Satya: Be honest with yourself; be honest with others. If you’re feeling pain, communicate it with your doctor, partner, sponsor, and friends. Be honest with your peers and family. Asteya: Don’t cheat. Don’t cheat yourself by not giving your all in your life’s activities. Aparigraha: Give your best performance and don’t overreach your abilities. If you’re working with other people, be a team player and bring your personal best to the outing. Brahmacharya: Understand how to pace yourself, be disciplined, and use self-control. Conserve your energy and know when it’s time to hit fifth gear and fly!
• Niyama: Cultivating positive actions that will increase happiness. Saucha (cleanliness), Santosha (contentment), Tapas (discipline), Svadyaya( self-study), Ishvara pranidhana( surrender).
• Practicing on the mat: Saucha: Keep your mat, clothes, body, and mind clean as you practice. Treat your mat as a temple, and refuse to bring life’s drama to your practice. Santosha: Be happy or content with yourself as you are. Avoid pushing yourself through inflexibility, injury, or an illness. Tapas: See opportunity, growth, and have the same passion for yoga that you display for your life activity. Svadhyaya: Be observant of tightness and your progression in the practice. Also be aware of your mental and emotional reactions of your work during the yoga practice. Ishvara pranidhana: Allow yourself to surrender to the practice on the mat. Finish each session with gratitude and respect for your personal practice.
• Practicing in your life: Suacha: Keep your body clean, well nourished, and stay free of drugs. Be organized with your work and commitments and keep things clean on social media. Remember the world can see how you represent yourself in your work and family with every status and post you make. Santosha: When things don’t go your way, accept it in the moment and work to improve the situation in the next moment. Don’t hold onto the negative energy of a bad moment. Instead focus on something positive from the last activity to build on the next one. Tapas: Embrace discipline and hard efforts in your life to gain the most benefits. Find passion in your work so you’ll never face regret. Svadhyaya: Don’t be afraid to keep a training log or take mental notes. This will not only help your physical performance in your life, but will also assist you in understanding your mental and emotional process as well. Ishvara pranidhana: Open yourself up to something bigger than you. Be selfless and all giving for something more than yourself.
• Asana: The physical practice. On the mat: The poses that we flow through. In your life: Find mountain pose before a face-off to become grounded within the moment. Keep shoulders, hips, and legs in proper alignment and keep the spine long. Attention to a strong form leads to efficiency.
• Pranayama: The control of breath during the physical, mental, and spiritual exercises. On the mat: Stay focused on your breath as you flow through the postures. This awareness of breath and it will tell you when to go deeper or to ease up in a pose. In your life: Get to know your breathing habits on a deeper level. Become aware if your breath is uneven, forced, and difficult in the moment. Then use the breath to make your efforts easier.
• Pratyahara: Sensory withdrawal from external distractions. On the mat: Your mat is your sacred space while you’re there. Be involved in your practice and don’t compare your poses with anyone else’s. In your life: Ignore the distracting information that your senses are gathering from the outside environment, and instead pay attention to what’s going on inside your own body.
• Dharana: A single-pointed concentration, focusing all of your awareness on one thing. A mantra, a drishti( a gazing point), or your breath will help deepen this practice. On the mat: Pay attention to your form and your breath. This focus will allow all mental chatter to quiet. In your life: Have complete attention to technique, to all of your efforts, and keeping your form together.
• Diyana: Accessing a state of flow on many things at once. On the mat: Keep your awareness on the present moment. In your life: Be right here, right now.
• Samadhi: Blissful connection to yourself and your source. On the mat: Be open to the healing effects that the practice has on you. In your life: It’s the connection of you and the elements of your environment. Be a part of the blissful moments when everything comes together. Feel the effortless motion, fulfilling your potential, and being connected to the flow of the life.
By adding these guidelines into your life, you’ll find a deeper confidence, focus, and determination of becoming the best individual that you can be right now. You’ll also find that the more you’re implementing these guidelines daily, the more than likely you’ll make better choices to improve your life. So you’ll not only have positive growth in the present moment, but you’ll be creating a vibrant and positive future self with the work that you do today.