For many of us, we dream of what we want yet we struggle with being able to make a dream a reality. We struggle with moving out of love and not fear. Our own fears based on past doubt, worries about the future or misconception hold us back from living a life we love. In yoga, Patanjali teaches us that the 5 vrittis, whirlings of the mind, prevent us from truly being in the moment and that yoga is the stilling of the fluctuations of the mind. Through the path of yoga, we can open up to our own inner wisdom, our own inner light. And when we are connected, heart, mind and spirit, we can truly love the life we live.
For most students, the physical aspect of yoga is what draws you to the mat for the first time. The vision of looking leaner, stronger and being more at ease sounds inviting. However, as you begin to deepen your practice, and practice all eight limbs of yoga, the true meaning of yoga unfolds. Many of us focus solely on the third limb, “asana” thinking that the physical practice is the end all, however, it is only one of the eight limbs. To truly be living in the present and practicing yoga, you practice all eight limbs. The first two limbs, yama and niyama, refer to constraints or controls. Yama means external discipline, our social ethics. Practicing nonviolence, ahimsa, in our thoughts, words and actions. Practicing nonstealing, asteya, conservation of one’s vital energy,brahmacarya, and practicing non-hoarding, aparigrapha. Beyond the yama, are the niyama, the second limb of the yoga path defined by Patanjali. The niyama are your personal ethics or internal discipline. And within the niyama: sauca, santosa, tapas, svadhyaya, isvarapranidhana, we find the root of what enables you to have faith, moving along your path and living the life you love or dream of. Sauca, means cleanliness and refers to cleanliness of the body and mind. Cleanliness of your thoughts. Santosa refers to complete contentment or gratitude. Tapas means intensity literally coming from the word, tejas, or fire. I like to think of this word as the intensity to cause change. Svadhyaya means self-study and is critical to assessing your own personal growth and making change to move in a positive direction. Isvarapranidhana refers to faith or having belief in a higher power. When our minds are free of clutter, clean in thought, when we can experience complete contentment with what is, no matter how good or bad, when we can self-study, have faith we are moving along the right path, and when we can have humility and surrender, we can arrive at joy. We can live a life we love.
Whether you have yet to come to your mat for the first time, or whether you practice daily, find a way to practice all eight limbs of yoga. You may find within just the first two limbs that you have your work cut out for yourself. Trust and know that the path of yoga is rich. The path of yoga can help you live the life you love and love the life you live.
I am grateful for finding yoga. And as I look back on the last year of my life, I see the results of my actions of faith, discipline, contentment and renunciation. I am now doing what I love, with whom I love and truly living the life I dreamed of. I hope you can find the same sweetness, the same richness in your own yoga practice.