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Live The Yoga Lifestyle With These Guidelines

By LiveWell Community

Yoga is more than just the postures that we do on our mat. If you have a pretty consistent practice and are looking to deepen your practice further, it doesn’t mean you have to start nailing those handstands and splits. How we integrate yoga into our daily life is really where the magic happens. You may have heard of the Eight Limbs of Yoga. These are guidelines or suggestions which inspire us to live a better, more wholesome life. In Western culture, we focus mainly on limbs 3 and 4, Asana and pranayama. With a touch upon Pratyahara withdrawal from senses and Dharana, focused concentration or meditation. But limbs one and two, the Yamas and the Niyamas, offer us more personal guidelines which to live by.  So, what are they?

Yamas – Guidelines for how we live in the world around us

The Yamas are the first limbs of yoga. These Yama’s address moral guidelines we should observe and practice, allowing us to show up as the best person we can be in the world around us. We don’t just transform our lives on the mat, but we can benefit everything and everyone around us with the things we learn along the way. There are five Yamas;

  1. Ahimsa – Non-violence
  2. Satya - Truthfulness
  3. Asteya – Non-stealing
  4. Brahmacharya - Abstinence
  5. Aparigraha – Non-attachment

These guidelines offer a way for us to think and act in a way that brings ease not just to ourselves but to those around us. Ahimsa reminds us to not harm. That on this earth we are all as one, one life isn't more important than the other, cause no harm to others and they won't cause harm to you. Satya encourages us to speak from a place of truth and honesty, using our voice for an act of good. Asteya tells us not to steal or covet things that don’t belong to us. As humans, we are led by our desires and find ourselves chasing them endlessly. But it reminds us that there is plenty of everything for everyone.  Brahmacharya is typically meant to abstain from having sex. But this can be looked at as abstinence from any overly indulgent behaviour or bad habits such as drinking or smoking. The final Yama, Aparigraha focuses on non-attachment. To move and adapt with the universe around us, not grasping onto things and expecting that life is a constant flow.  

Niyamas – Guidelines for how we live within ourselves

The Niyamas are the second limb of yoga and offer us ways in which we can live in a more wholesome and fulfilling way. They allow us to connect to our higher self and to live in a higher state of being. With a deep-rooted understanding of ourselves. These are the five Niyamas;

  1. Saucha – Cleanliness
  2. Santosha – Contentment
  3. Tapas – Discipline
  4. Svadhyaya – Self Study
  5. Isvara Pranidhana – Surrender to a higher power

Saucha refers to cleanliness not just of the physical body, but of the soul. It asks you to take a look at what you fill your body with from the inside out, not just in terms of food but the thoughts that feed your mind. Your body is your temple and your carrier through this lifetime, so filling it with things that help your body to thrive, mentally and physically. Santosha is our contentment in life. To be happy with the things we have, to live from a place of gratitude rather than lack and to focus on the things we have in our life. Tapas is our discipline, to give us that little bit of fire to go out and work for the things we want. To remind us that the things worth having are worth working for and it takes commitment to get it. Svadhyaya or self-study offers us the opportunity to constantly live in a state of learning and growth. To understand more about ourselves and who we are. A true study is a lifelong commitment to ourselves. Ishvarapranidhana means to surrender to a higher power. This reminds us that the energy in the universe is always there to divinely guide us. Whatever you believe in whether it’s a specific God or Deity, spirituality or science. Believe that there is something bigger than just ourselves which is guiding our life forward. 

The following and understanding of the Yamas and Niyamas add another layer to our practice. Of course, they can be applied to our practice on our mat, but it makes it so much more than a physical practice. There is so much more to yoga than the 60-minute asana practice. Following these yogic guidelines allows us to practice yoga away from our mat and in our daily life. Which provides the true integration into living a yoga lifestyle.

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