Dearest Lighthouse yoga family
How are you doing? being?
A perfect way to practice Yoga off the Mat is to integrate Patanjali’s Yamas & Ni Yamas. They are a yogi’s guide on how to live peacefully and respectively with others and with ourselves. Yoga off the mat can be as challenging as a handstand in the centre of the room! It would be easier to succeed if we lived out in the woods away from civilisation with no interaction or distraction but as most of us enjoy being householder Yoginis and Yogi, it can be a challenge.
Needless to say, for me it is still a work in progress but I’ve found that by being more mindful and living in the moment there is less chance of reactivity. We are all human and fly off the handle now and again, so apologise, delete, try not to repeat and move on to the next chance of peace.
By interweaving the Yamas and Ni yamas into my life, It has definitely improved my relationships and my perception of the world. I hope you find it helpful too.
Ahimsa - non violence in thoughts words or deeds - (essentially being kind) and
Satya - Speaking one’s Truth. Being Honest.
It feels like the first two yamas are closely linked.
If by speaking the truth we hurt someone’s feelings - “the truth hurts!” scenario then we are most probably speaking from a wounded ego and not from a compassionate heart. The little self, ego - the "I" part of the personality, where it's so important to be right; as opposed to the higher Self which is much more loving, forgiving and expansive.
Yoga always begins from the heart - In essence it is Love and connection.
So as you may have guessed Ahimsa trumps Satya - If the truth will hurt another then compassion is the way forward to healing a situation that is out of your control. Choosing to reflect the good truths and qualities of a person has a more favourable effect in the long run.
The the things that usually irk us are usually the exact things we don't like about ourself so be kind inside and out.
Asteya - Non stealing in thoughts, words, deeds. - Respecting others belongings and time, i.e. not being late or running over on class times - yes ,I'm still working on that one! Or, being generous with your time and belongings to help out others.
I find this a tricky area on social media. How many times do we read the same well-meaning posts of more love, gratitude, giving back, passing it on? Apologies, I may be guilty of this one and credits where it's due if subconsciously, I've regurgitated the same yoga teachings as another;-)
Brahmacharya - this used to mean celibacy in the old days but a more modern take is to use your creative/spiritual energy wisely instead of wasting it.
How much energy do we waste on catastrophising about the future? Worrying is an exhausting and unnecessary pastime. If we could all be more mindful each moment there would be nothing to worry about Practising being present (yoga off the mat) gives you the tools for positive change.
I’ve been practising this for about 15 years, it does get easier and the benefits are plentiful, health, relationship, sleep, creativity all thrive.
What if we were all to learn from our past experiences? If we used our energy to create more learning and understanding in order to help others overcome similar challenges. Or, to wake up to our own unique gifts, find our life's purpose in order to to serve humanity. Wow what a wonderful world it would be.
It's also important not to burn yourself out. Knowing when it's a time to rest, a time to play and a time to return and reflect before returning back out into the world. Finding your cycles of flow just like the seasons.
Aparigraha - Non Attachment. Not hoarding and letting things go. Non possessiveness.
Enjoying life to the full but not getting too attached to things. Change is a constant but being anchored to your inner calm is always possible
Letting go of past resentments in order to allow the space for good thing to come your way can feel very healing. As one door closes another will open.
Ni Yamas - Personal Practice.
Saucha - Cleanliness - Purity of body, mind and our environment.
Santosha - Contentment - Off the mat, this is living from an attitude of abundance and not lack. On the mat not striving to perfect a certain asana at the risk of injury.
Tapas - Discipline or enthusiasm to get on your mat, or go for a walk, or do that task that really needs to be done. For me, tapas is not to eat a whole packet of biscuits! Enthusiasm to make healthy choices. Looking for more simplicity.
Svadhyaya - Study of the self and spiritual texts - always open to learn. This is not always easy but well worth the effort. Through reading yoga texts old and new; self reflection, journalling and practising yoga nidra, my experience of life has become so much more complete and rewarding. This was my first experience of practising yoga off the mat. It is so nourishing for the Manomaya Kosha - linked to our mind and emotional body which has a positive effect on our whole wellbeing.
Ishwara Pranidhana - Surrender to grace. Ishwara Pranidhana has been a real comfort during lockdown and life in general. It takes a huge weight off your shoulders having the faith that everything is always going to be okay, it keeps one truly centred and Sattvic. By not getting attached to an outcome but offering what we can to serve our community in some way big or small takes the pressure off.
If you like a challenge, practice integrating them into your day/week then reflect or journal to see if there has been any positive outcomes or shifts in your perception. No one in your family even need know what you are practising but they will most definitely absorb and benefit from the fruits of your practice, as you experience more peace and harmony they will reflect it back as we are all connected! Its a Win Win
Would you like to feel more Sattvic this summer? More calm, centred and connected to the things that are important to you?
You are invited to join me on this Free Midsummer Challenge, a 7 day program introducing Yoga off the mat. It will include an introduction to journalling, and mindfulness exercises along with a dash of yoga philosophy.
Click below to register.