Updated: Jun 17
Asana, the physical practice of yoga, is wonderful. It feels satisfying in my body. And yet there is so much more to yoga than asana. There is yoga philosophy, ethics, mantra (sound), mudra (symbol and gesture), meditation, focus and so much more. As we practice yoga beyond just asana, we recognize the invitation into a more spiritually fulfilling and ethical life.
So, in addition to whatever values and ethics we already live by, we can begin to add the traditional ethics outlined in The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.
In practicing the first ethical principles of yoga, the yamas and niyamas, we learn to follow our inner guidance to personal, emotional, physical and spiritual growth; we cultivate a life of truth, compassion, generosity, and peace. In turn, living by them can create transformation, healing, and happiness for ourselves and for the world.
Practicing with these ethical foundations is a lifelong journey. Now, I’m not guaranteeing you love, but you may end up surprised, as I was--and still am. You never know what you might create in your life with the supportive value of yogic ethics.
Maintaining congruence with the complexities of yoga practice enables us to embody yoga’s roots and reflect ahimsa, care and bring uplift in the world. It encourages us to begin with a curious, open-minded and open-hearted inquiry into the deep and inviting principles of yogic ethics.
Yoga is not just one thing, but a group of physical, mental and spiritual disciplines that originated in ancient India in an oral tradition that potentially predates the Vedas, India’s oldest known spiritual scripture. Throughout history, various groups in India—across religions (Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism) and other cultures—have defined yoga according to different beliefs and goals.
Through the ancient traditions and practices, many different versions of yogic ethics emerged—various lineages, styles, schools, and traditions that vary in approach, vision and goals. Today yoga has expanded to become a global phenomenon. In this light, yoga describes both an optimal, unifying state of consciousness, and the techniques, philosophies, practices, and lifestyles that bring one to a unified state. After all, it's hard to pursue peace if one is lying, cheating or stealing! So the yamas and niyamas were very practical then, as now.
Practically speaking, just as we are all the same as the Universal, you and I are also not separate or different in our innermost being. We have this experience in the depth of meditation immersed in the unity of just being. This understanding of yogic ethics founded in unity can also invite us into bringing this alive in our day-to-day lives.
From meditation or practice on our mat, to welcoming people into our studios and classrooms and lives, we can practice yoga as unity. We can also ask ourselves, what am I doing that may be creating separation? This can be our yoga unity check-in as we bring this practice of yogic ethics into our personal, family, community and social world.
To learn more about the depth of this tradition and join my upcoming free masterclass on embodying yoga philosophy, Love in Action: Ahimsa Masterclass here https://embodyyogasroots.com/ycc-ahimsa-masterclass/