Contrary to the popular perception, Yoga is not just about exercise and breathing or twisting up one’s body like a pretzel or leading an austere life, but is rather a holistic way of life. Embracing a yogic lifestyle allows one to achieve the much sought after harmony of the mind, body and the spirit. It brings in a balance to all aspects of the life and also enhances the quality of life. Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra talks of the eight aspects of a Yogic lifestyle called the Eight Limbs of Yoga which act as practical guides to one’s personal advancement.
The Yogic lifestyle is based on certain rules of social conduct called “The Yamas” which describe one’s attitude towards others and the world around. Ahimsa is often touted as the most-important of the Yogic principles. It means non-violence to oneself and to others. It is manifested via thoughts, words and deeds. Practicing Ahimsa means nurturing unconditional love and true compassion to all living beings and our surroundings as well.
Vegetarianism or renunciation of meat is the simplest manifestation of Ahimsa, and forms an important part of yogic lifestyle. According to ancient texts on yoga vegetarian diet is also connected with inner calm, happiness, positivity harmony between mind and body, thus enhancing the yogic experience.
Satya or Speaking truth and being honest with oneself and with others is truly a virtue. As Gandhi had said: “Ahimsa is my God, and Truth is my God, When I look for Ahimsa, Truth says, find it through me. When I look for Truth, Ahimsa says, find it out through me.” Satya and Ahimsa are thus, two sides of the same coin, which when adhered to lead us to a peaceful reconciliation with our own true nature.
A truly yogic lifestyle also calls for incorporating virtues like non-greed or Aparigraha, non-stealing or Asteya and faithfulness or Brahmacharya into one’s conduct. The real purpose of the Yamas is to achieve lasting inner peace and happiness.
Yoga and meditation also help one acquire and practice control over extreme emotions and thus strengthens relationships. Nurturing associations act to uplift, empower, inspire and heal the mind, and achieve mental calm.
While practicing yoga, Abhinam yoga School in India, stresses the importance to inculcate a positive mental attitude. Any negativity in thoughts and actions ultimately reflects on one’s physical health and well- being. Meditation and pranayama help us release the negative energies that disturb the mind and also the body.
While yoga aims to achieve a state of mental and physical well-being, depriving oneself of restful sleep is the simplest way to become unhealthy. Various researches indicate that sound sleep is the only time when body releases growth hormone and other anti-ageing, cell-regenerating factors. Lack of proper sleep over-burdens and thus, permanently weakens the immune system, making way for auto-immune diseases to develop easily. Yoga and pranayama help one to relieve mental stress and enjoy sound sleep and thus boost body’s physiological systems, immunity and digestion in particular.
In the Bhagwat Gita, yoga is described as “Yogah Karmasu Kaushalam”, meaning Yoga is perfection in action. Yoga in today’s world is the easiest option available to counteract one’s stressful and overworked lifestyle. To experience the real benefits of yoga, it should be made a part and parcel of all daily activities. Through our yoga teacher training courses, we try to incorporate the above-mentioned virtues into our students’ life along with regular practice of yoga asanas, pranayama and meditation is the real secret to a healthier and happier life.