Our interconnection is so clear. What I do impacts you, your family, your gramma...After all this we won't be able to say, “I can do whatever I want, it's my business, what's it got to do with you?"
For those of us who have the privilege to have a home and worrying about getting enough food in the freezer, there is an opportunity to be with yourself and others in ways never presented before.
The Yoga Sutras have been with us for thousands of years through personal trials, local disasters and now global pandemic. What wisdom does it contain for us now? Let’s look at the first two essential limbs.
YAMAS- Our relationship with others. Are you creating harmony or disharmony with your actions, thoughts and deeds.
Ahimsa- non-violence or non-harming.
Protect yourself in order to protect others. Be thoughtful that your actions affect not just you but everyone else. Be friendly and empathetic to others when they are scared, overwhelmed or in pain.
What information are you gathering or sharing? It is truthful and from reliable sources? Be compassionate with yourself as feelings arise and be honest with yourself.
Practice social distancing and buy what you need so you leave supplies for others.
Aparigraha- non coveting.
Practice gratitude for what you have. Each night, write down three things you are grateful for that day.
Brahamacharya- Containment of your energy for higher purposes.
Keep your energy focused on those activities that keep you on the path of your higher goal. Monitor your personal habits in order to contain the spread of the virus
NIYAMAS - Our relationship with ourselves.
Have you ever had so much time to be with yourself? Do you avoid yourself with busy tasks or are you getting to know yourself better?
Saucha - cleanliness or purity
This is in your outer world as well as the food, thoughts and actions you put into your mind and body. Setting up a clean place for your mat, setting flowers and incense will make it inviting and special. Making healthy meals and monitoring the amount of sugar, caffeine and especially alcohol intake is important. Take care of your nervous system as a mother would tend to a child. And especially now, wash your hands.
Santosha - contentment.
Let go of expectations of what you aren’t doing or didn’t do and instead set your mind to be content. Be patient and compassionate with yourself when difficult emotions arise.
How can you practice santosha in your asana practice?
Tapas - self-discipline or literally translates to heat.
When you perform any task with pure determination and effort, this is tapas whether it’s cleaning a bathroom or a yoga asana practice. Tapas focuses energy, increases your strength and confidence. The practice of asanas is a form of tapas for the body.
What other activities do you do that are a form of tapas. What actives do you do that would benefit from application of Tapas?
Svadvahya - self-study
It literally means “to recollect (to remember, to contemplate, to meditate on) the Self.” It is the effort to know the Self. With the gift of time, it’s a good opportunity read or study the writings that inspire you. Practicing on your own or with audio support of a teacher, gives you the space to observe and reflect.
Are your thoughts and actions in harmony with your goals?
Isvara Pranidhana. Isvara is an all pervading consciousness and Pranidhana is to surrender or devote.
Ultimately, we do not have control. Right now, we can see that more than ever. Surrender, is not a mindless submission but a giving of oneself to a higher source that guides you toward wholeness and fulfillment of your inner purpose.
What is your higher purpose, today? What attachments do you have that might be impeding you? Is there an activity you do that you can devote to the service of a greater good?
BKS Iyengar took all the limbs of yoga and kneaded them into the practice of asana. How do you practice each yama and each niyama in your asana practice?
Please share your experiences. Either email me or share on this FB page
Be safe and well,
P.s. Thank you for all your emails telling me how these Weekly Wednesday practice recommendations are inspiring you. I’m having fun!
Please check out the podcast as well! This week Ravi Nathwani will join me for regular episodes on philosophy made practical. You can find them on the webpage or on Apple Podcast. “Little Big Moments”
And stay tuned for my interview with Jennie Wiliford who explains how much we can learn from primates and why she hates the word yogi.
Credit: Yoga International and my friend Jaya Chakravraty