Bohemian Babe Travels Light with the Yoga Sutras
by Christina Grozik
There are many types of journeys that one can embark on. Yoga has been one for me since I started practicing over fifteen years ago. At that time it wasn’t all the rage among social groups and you did not hear of hipster bars partnering it with drinking either. At that time, I carried a book with me on a type of yoga called kundalini. My boss, Alfred Miller, teased me relentlessly about it in a light-hearted manner. He thought it was some kind of weird voodoo magic at the time, but was always supportive of my interests and encouraged me to pursue my path. I recently joined him for his first yoga class. Life can be funny that way.
With a surge of interest in yoga it’s important to focus on what makes yoga such an incredibly sacred practice. With the gain in popularity, the heart of what yoga is can easily get lost. Yoga is about love. It is about life. It is about connection. Yoga can simply be focused breathing.
The path of yoga is different for everyone. Like many organized religions and societies there are a set of principles attached that should be noted. These guidelines come to us from the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali and contain over 190 “sutras.” It is said that the Yoga-Sutras dating back to somewhere between 500-200 BCE are widely regarded as the foundation for yoga philosophy. These are seen as keys to living a life of meaning and purpose. Here are a few of the primary elements known as yamas and niyamas:
- NON-HARMING (Ahimsa) – Be kind in your thoughts, words and actions.
- TRUTH (Satya) – Live in truth.
- RIGHTEOUSNESS (Asteya)– Stealing or cheating = no bueno (not good,) don’t do it.
- BE MINDFUL OF ENERGY USE (Brahma-charya) – Practice behavior that brings you closer to ‘the divine’ or ‘the creator’ and allows your vitality to flourish. Do not exhaust your energy on matters (like gossip) that do not allow you to grow spiritually.
- SIMPLICITY (Aparigraha) – Protect what is sacred. Find fortune in your spirit internally and externally. Live with the knowledge that everything changes.
- CLEANLINESS (Saucha) – Be pure in your thinking and in the foods that you eat, establish a clutter free environment around you and treat your body as the temple it is with regular self-care practices.
- CONTENTMENT (Santosha) – Be thankful for what you have and stop focusing on what you don’t have.
- SELF-DISCIPLINE (Tapas)– Practice a disciplined life. Keep your focus on your path.
- SELF-STUDY (Svadhyaya) – Take the time to read a meditation, mantra, prayer or kind words each day. To learn is to grow.
- WORSHIP (Isvara Pranidhana) – Surrender to the divine that guides you.
So that’s all good news, right? Yoga ethics basically let’s you off of the hook from the following:
- It does not require brand-named expensive yoga gear
- There’s no need to try to impress those around you with your breathing abilities like exhaling with extreme force out of your mouth as though you are imitating a dragon. I mean come on people, there is a thing called cold and flu season after all. It is also more beneficial to breath out of your nose since it stimulates the olfactory nerve among other pluses.
- Although there are many advantages to doing yoga, it is certainly not a qualifier for some path to the Olympics. So when those around you are in a pose in which the instructor directs you, let go of the desire to show everyone that you can do the craziest body contortion known to man unless called to do so. It is not necessary. Save it for your home.