As yogis we have the opportunity to look at all areas of our life and start to integrate the philosophy of yoga into daily decision-making. There are people out there that do yoga for exercise, to sweat, get a good stretch in and that is beautiful too. The physical practice is called yoga, or asana, in sanskrit this term means a comfortable seat. Asana is the third branch of the Eight Limbs of Yoga written in the Sutras by Patanjali. Yoga is actually much more than moving the body for exercise. If this is new you, that’s ok, stick with me. It isn’t about how deep you can go in a pose, although this is a common misperception. I hear people constantly say “yoga isn’t for me” or “I am not flexible enough to do yoga.” I’m here to veto those statements because yoga is for everyone. If the asana doesn’t interest you, that’s ok too because there’s other yogic practices (and a varietal of asana styles) that may be a better fit for what your body needs.
It can feel intimidating not having much flexibility, balance or strength and that’s why more people need it, perhaps, I am biased. I have been practicing for years but I can assure you that yoga is not just for bendy people which is a common thought. Yoga is systematic practice that’s been designed to teach people how to live in harmony, internally and externally. It’s about staying open, receptive, trying new things through mindful observation to enhance our overall well-being. Some of the benefits to this philosophy is that we are choosing to dive deeper within ourselves, or svadhyaya (one of the five Niyamas), self study. This in return allows us to discover our purpose, dharma, and live through a mindful perspective. The “work” of taking responsibility for our decisions has the power to raise our vibration and awareness.
Let’s take a step back for a moment. We may not be Jesus or Lord Krishna reincarnated, but you matter and your choices do too. Just think if everyone supported local farmers, meditated most days, went to yoga, carpooled, recycled, treated water as a precious resource, smiled at strangers in the grocery store (the list goes on). The point I am trying to make is, you matter and so do your choices. I genuinely believe that these small choices can create big change on a micro and macro level. Mother Teresa said it best stating “we ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But that ocean would be less because of that missing drop.” Sometimes, it seems like the little things aren’t that big of a deal but in reality, the details count and so do our decisions. And before I ask this very important question, I will go ahead and warn you that I am busting out all the big guns, including Ghandi…why not “be the change you want to see in the world?”
With all that said, our daily habits of what we do, what we eat, amongst other factors that impacts our health and how we show-up. If we eat fast food everyday, this will influence our brain function, energy level, sleep, digestion, overall moral and motivation. So, why not use food as medicine? Has anyone else noticed that when making healthy food choices, you just feel like a more pleasant, compassionate, thoughtful human being? Or is it just me?
In the following series “What Yogis Eat,” I will be touching on what yoga is, a brief history and the idea that we can take yoga off the mat because it is actually a lifestyle. Stay tuned for more on this concepts and how we can integrate compassionate, nonviolent practices into our food choices and if you would like to read the previous blog on choices that make a difference click on this link!
This article was originally written for my friends over at thekulacollective.com. They are an epic group of people that lead 200 and 300 hr YTT’s all over the world.