Most people think of yoga as purely physical exercise, a way to get stronger, healthier, more flexible. Others see it as meditating every day, chanting mantras and other spiritual rituals. But few people realise that being a yogi is so much more than that. Yoga is a whole set of tools that can help us to take control of that constant mind chatter and maintain and overall balance and unity in life.
In September I was lucky to be able to collaborate with Ultimate Edge Communications on their wellbeing program introducing the employees to Yoga principle and practices through weekly presentations and yoga asana practices.
Ultimately by practicing yoga we can become much more effective, self-aware and successful in everything we do.
The whole goal of yoga practice is to take control of ‘chitta vritti’ or so called mind chatter.
You know that constant flow of thoughts that keeps you awake at night? That’s what is stopping you from living your life to your full potential.
To truly benefit from yoga practice, it has to expand beyond the mat and into life. Through the 8-Limbed path we work towards wholeness, connectedness and unity. The epidemic of loneliness and isolation are even more prevalent in today’s hyper connected-world. Technologically, we’re more connected than ever before but in reality, we’re less connected at a deep, authentic, spiritual level with ourselves and with those around us.
Yoga offers us moral obligations, habits for healthy living and spiritual existence, physical exercise and breathing techniques that all work together towards a single goal. Achieving balance and full awareness. The ability to live in present moment without judgement and constant need to seek validation for everything we do.
The Yamas (moral obligations) teach us that we should practice non-violence (Ahimsa) towards others, nature but also ourselves. Jealousy, resentment, anger are all toxic feelings we need to work on removing from our mind and replace it with positive thoughts boosting dopamine and our immunity!
Truthfulness (Satya), being authentic, honest and genuine and always true to our own values is the second obligation that helps us to slow down, still our mind and stop reacting from a place of fear and prior conditioning.
Thinking that we are not good enough and that something is missing is going to deprive us of living in the moment and appreciating what we have. Having faith in ourselves and valuing anything that is given to us is the core of non-stealing (Asteya). This goes to hand with directing our energy away from external desires towards finding peace and happiness within ourselves. Moderation (Brahmacharya) teaches us to share generously what we have with others without expecting anything in return and without doing it just to please others.
We spend a lot of our time and energy focusing on chasing our future or running away from our past. But we need to learn the art of keeping only what serves us in the moment and letting go when the time is right. Remember that life is not a destination, it’s a journey! And instead of chasing that goal that you perceive as the ultimate happiness, we should focus on experiencing joy in everything we do as we are working towards that goal. This is the art of non-greed (Asparigraha).
You can see that all of the above can and should be applied in all aspects of your life including work. You will find that you start enjoying everything you do much more and this energy within you will turn into a toxic energy that will be reflected in your performance and results.
Nyamas (spiritual practices) only build on Yamas. Habits such as cleanliness (Saucha), discipline (Tapas), self-study and ongoing self-education (Svadhyaya) and contentment (Santosha) help us to learn to think pure, non-judgemental thoughts, appreciate how far we’ve come and stop dwelling on things we cannot have.
It’s the realisation that we are always exactly where we need to be. Everything happens for a reason.
And acceptance of the fact that everything will be ok in the end. If it’s not ok, it’s not the end that ultimately allow us to surrender, rest when we need to, open up and truly experience life as it unfolds.
The physical yoga practice (asana), breathing techniques (pranayama) and ‘mediation (pratyahara) are all tools to help us further practice and enhance the above and achieve full self-awareness. Learning to incorporate yoga practice into our daily life in this way is a challenge, but it is a challenge that gives meaning and direction to our life.