Thursday, April 23, 2009

Not Just Liking Yoga... Living Yoga

I'm kind of a nerd at heart and love to learn. I recently became obsessed with nonfiction books after being faithful to fun fiction for many years. I'm constantly looking for new yoga workshops to go to (fingers crossed I got into one tomorrow night on the chakras!) and I'm a sucker for a good documentary (I have Panic permanently saved to my DVR). I love when learning is ongoing and there's always something new happening. Maybe this is why I like yoga. There's an endless amount of info out there on it and numerous paths to follow. It's all so personal too. Not like learning trig which, I don't know about you, but I found unbelievably difficult because I could never find a way to relate to it. I've become very passionate about not just liking yoga, but living yoga. And while you'll find that I relate some yogic philosophies to anxiety, I also relate them to my everyday life.

I'm a big fan of the yamas and niyamas - which serve as ethical guidelines in yoga, the moral beliefs. I love to learn new ways to apply them to what's happening in my life and I've put a little modern spin on them!


Samtosha - this means contentment. I no longer get caught up in the game of "who has what" anymore. I steer clear of comparing myself to others. I don't believe that money buys happiness and I don't strive to be independently wealthy. I'm not angry if I don't look graceful in a pose or if I can't keep up with my hubby when we play tennis. I'm no longer in turmoil about stepping on the scale. I'm happy being me. I'm not perfect, rich or famous - and that's totally ok. When I'm feeling down on myself (which lets face it, we all have personal pity parties every now and then!) I make a list of everything i'm grateful for and happy about. Rather than focus on what you don't have, focus on what you do have. Be happy being you.

Shauca - means pureness. I take this to heart with my body and my diet. I keep my mind and body healthy with pure, clean foods and work up a good sweat in workouts to detoxify. I also keep my emotions pure by staying away from the endless cycle of negative and self-damaging thoughts. I look at this as a way to keep purity in my life and not get bogged down by things that hurt me physically, emotionally or mentally. Your body is your temple - treat it as such.

Svadhyaya - means self study. I am a big fan of introspection. It's one of the main ways I came to understand the root causes of my anxiety and I practice this when I'm feeling out of sorts. I also practice this during meditation. Just as you want to know everything about a person when you first meet them, I want to know everything about myself! There's so many layers and each one is affected by different things. Knowing myself, truly knowing who I am, helps me to understand how and why I react as I do, and also gives me the ability to change it. I don't take feelings for granted anymore - now I give them the third degree!

Tapas - this means austerity. I was taught that tapas literally means ' to burn ' and it's practiced when you're "burning" through a difficult situation. I kind of relate it to patience (which at times, I tend to have very little of). What can I learn if I don't use patience to understand. Things get frustrating, things get annoying, life is life. But having the dedication to work through a problem and have the patience to understand what's happening is a blessing.

Ishvara pranidhana - means to surrender. This was a life lesson I learned the hard way. Again, just to keep it consistant, I'll give the example of my anxiety. I used to fight panic attacks and anxiety desperately. I never wanted to accept the reality of it. But after practicing ishvara pranidhana, I learned to float through the attacks and anxiety and accept it for what it was - anxiety. Anxiety that I would be able to heal from. When you're faced with a big issue, don't bang your head against a wall looking for an immediate answer. Sometimes letting go and allowing the universe to take it's course is the best solution. You can't control the world. You can't fight the world. Don't force control over your life - befriend it and let it help you along your way.

So there you have it - the 5 niyamas. love 'em! Hope you can find ways to relate these philosophies to your life... because sometimes it's nice to have some help in the shape of guidelines.

And don't worry - the yamas are next!

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