Today is World Yoga Day, but, due to the worldwide pandemic, yogis all over the world do not physically gather together (e.g. at the Times Square in New York or many places across India) as they did in previous years. Instead, I think it is a good time to reconsider that yoga is more than just gathering together for meditation and body poses (asanas).
Yoga is a holistic way of life, a philosophy. And even if you usually do not practice yoga, in times like these, it’s well worth to have a look at the 8 steps within the yoga path and with this on its philosophy:
1. Yama - How you treat the world
Ahimsa: A conscious and considered contact and interactions with all beings, with a special consideration to not harm them. It means to be respectful and caring, not only towards other human beings, but also to all animals and plants and with this to the whole nature around us. That’s also why many yogis are vegans.
Satya: Stands for truthfulness and openness.
Asteya: A conscious handling of desire; to give-up on the “I’ve got to have that”, especially in respect of things which to not belong to us.
Brahamacharya: Means the balance between action and relaxation, but also a moderate amount of all kind of consumption (including food, alcohol etc.).
Aparigraha: Means literally “do not hoard”; do only own as much as you really need -> “less is more”.
2. Niyama - How you treat yourself
Shauca: Stands for purity and clarity; keep your body and mind clean.
Santosha: Be content with what you have, similar to the above Asteya; skip the “I’ve got to have that” and appreciate the presence.
Tapas: have discipline and strive for inner self-development and contentment.
Svadhyaya: Self-reflection; where do I stand right now? What moves my life, what occupies my mind? Cultivate mindfulness.
Ishvara Prandihana: Develop confidence in a higher law.
3. Asanas - Body Postures
4. Pranayama - Breathing Regulation and Exercises
5. Pratyahara - Withdrawal of the sense (in respect of desire)
6. Dharana - Concentration
7. Dhyana - Meditation
8. Samadhi - Total Fusion
If you reach Samadhi it means you feel whole and one with what you do, what you feel and what you experience. Our focus is no longer towards what separates us from others but what unites us. It is the goal of the yoga path. And each individual will instinctively know when they have reached it.
But as for all things in life, start small. Step 1, Yama and 2, Yiyama are the fundament. Turn inwards and look closely and unwashed how you treat the world (climate, animals and other people, your employees, your family, your friends) and then look how you treat yourself (nutrition, demands, sleep, feelings, etc.).
You do not need to become yourself a yogi or a whole new “You” by applying these things step by step into your life, but as I stated at the beginning; I think it doesn’t harm to reconsider these principles from time to times and to work on ourselves to become more mindful in our daily life, no matter if you practice body postures or not.
Please reach out if you like to learn more about yoga or if you have MS and want to learn or continue practicing yoga.