Friday, October 29, 2004

yoga moral code musing for the modern life

I often struggle with understanding how best to apply the moral tenets of yoga and wanted to share my thoughts on how the modern girl can best embody these as a daily practice. The ability to implement the traditional yogic moral codes into urban living has a profound impact on modern life. These rules are broken down into moral restraints (yamas) and observances (niyamas). The modern yogini is conscious of these in her day-to-day activities. She knows the importance of her actions and embodies the karmic premise that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Thus, she proceeds mindfully.
Yamas:
Non-violence (ahimsa) - This yama is interpreted in many ways, ranging from strict vegetarianism to the elimination of negative thoughts. She explores the vegetarian issue consciously and makes a decision based on her body’s needs and her ethical views. She knows that all actions begin with thoughts so she focuses on controlling her mind and maintaining a positive focus.
Truthfulness (satya) – Using words, thoughts, and actions mindfully is important to her. She values being honest with herself and others. She avoids putting herself in situations that would cause her to deviate from her truth. She believes in being true to her values, honoring her boundaries, and living with integrity.
Non-stealing (asteya) – Practicing generosity rather than stinginess is an ongoing intention. She knows that what she puts out to the world will come back to her. By holding on tightly to love, money, energy or emotion, she realizes that she is stealing from herself and others. She shares graciously without expectation, and knows she is surrounded by abundance.
Sexual moderation (brahmacarya) – Conscious sexuality is important. She values connecting with another being in this symbolic and succulent way. She also avoids the pain of a fleeting experience that leaves her feeling empty and she makes mindful sexual choices and feels empowered in her body.
Greedlessness (aparigraha) – She feels strongly about removing feelings of greed from her life. She does not wish for another’s life or what someone else has. She works strongly to create the life that she desires. By not comparing herself to others, even in a yoga studio filled with perfect poses, she is able to keep a one-pointed focus on her own internal experience.
Niyamas:
Purity (shauca) – Cleanliness is next to “goddessness.” She strives to improve order in her life through conscious consumption. She also avoids toxins that could hinder her progress on and off the mat.
Contentment (samtosha) – By viewing challenging situations as opportunities, she focuses on the present moment and lets go of her overactive mind. Being content does not mean no longer striving for growth or improvement, but it does mean that she is able to truly savor the present moment.
Austerity (tapas) – Simplicity is instinctive. Her home and workspace serve as an urban oasis to help keep her grounded. When she over-consumes or is surrounded by needless clutter, she feels out of sync. She engages in conscious retail therapy and enjoys savoring the simple pleasures that surround her.
Study (svadhyaya) – The continual study of self is prominent in her daily radar. She explores patterns, relationships, reactions, and even yoga practice habits through regular journal writing and reflection. She also knows that knowledge is power, that one can become in expert in a field by spending only 20 minutes a day for 18 months studying it, and she strives to constantly grow in her many areas of interest.
Surrender (Ishvara pranidhana) – Sometimes the best way to handle a challenge is to simply let go and release the need to control. Fighting life only saps energy. She knows that sometimes the best action is none at all. She understands when it is time to stop struggling, accept the outcome, and take steps to move forward.

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