*Guest post by Ed Meers, YfT Teacher Training Graduate and true modern day Yogi*
Life is so busy, it’s often easier to neglect one’s Yoga practice. We need to look at Yoga as a complete lifestyle, in my opinion, if one is to truly reap its many benefits. When I say this, I don’t mean that we simply need to do asana every day or go to a class a few times every week. Often I state that Yoga is about all Eight Limbs, as prescribed by Pantanjali. Don’t get me wrong, physical asana practiced daily is a good thing and a wonderful way to start. It is, however, easy to become consumed by the physical as it tends to be the most obvious and simple part of being a Yogi. However, like going to church, the synagog, temple or mosque once per week while not being mindful of the teachings presented there is not quite the same as living by the teachings of one’s preferred path.
The path of Yoga is, by no means a simple one. I would recommend starting with one or two things to slowly transform one’s self. Take, for example,ahimsa – practicing non-violence. On the surface, this appears to be telling us not to be physically violent or harmful towards others. One may believe, since I do not kick puppies, spank my children or get in fist fights to have mastered this concept. While this is a good beginning, it extends far deeper than this. Allowing aggressive thoughts towards others pass through our mind, forcibly pushing one further or deeper into a pose or consuming animals as food are all examples of not practicing ahimsa. Rather than throwing one’s hands up in resignation, it is important to emphasize the wordpractice. This is what Yoga – and life – truly is all about. It’s about the journey, not necessarily about the destination. We often react in a violent manner, whether it is toward the person who cuts us off in traffic or at another who truly aggravates us. Breathe – we are all human. The main thing is to be aware that we are acting as such and endeavour to “catch our selves” and decrease the frequency as to how we might react this way. Over time, like thinking about things being half full as opposed to half empty, or seeing the positives in adversity, we gradually become more mindful and adapt our selves accordingly.
Making the time for practice is part of being reflective, introspective and truly being in the moment instead of wishing away the daily grind for special occasions and more notable parts of one’s life. If we are not present in our daily lives – in the moment – then where are we?
One must also be patient. Yoga offers no quick fixes and can oftentimes lead us into turbulence. This is the nature of our being as all states are temporary: happiness, depression, loneliness, ecstasy and so forth. Confucius stated that “everything has its beauty, but not everyone sees it”. Just as the sculpture sees the masterpiece through the rough stone or the paints on their pallet, by cultivating a greater awareness will lead us onwards. We have spent much of our lives getting to the conditioned state that we experience at present, and we may expect a lifetime for transformation. As we continue to cultivate our ways in the spirit of the Eight Limbs – being honest, not hoarding, not stealing, using our energy wisely, dedicating one’s self to self-study, demonstrating discipline, devotion and practicing pranayama (breathing) asana and meditation – we may eventually break the cycle ofduhka (hardship) and embrace the meaninglessness of conditioned existence known as samsara. We live from our memories, a condition that is not always conducive toward a happy life. It matters not where we come from, but rather where we are now. The past is the past and the future lies ahead of us. To be content and accept the present will make for a better life. As Krishnamurti states: “A man who is not afraid is not aggressive, a man who has no sense of fear of any kind is really a free, a peaceful man.”We all love to be loved and to feel the tranquility and safety peace offers us. Despite our difficult lives, this remain attainable if we are willing to work in that direction. To live a life apathetically and as a non-entity is to not live at all. So take the time life offers you – it is all there is. Life is breath – it sustains both the body and mind. Take the time to breathe deeply.
*Want to give “Keeping Regular” a try? Join our 30 Day Yoga Challenge! Not only will you experience the benefits of daily yoga, but there are prizes on the line- Yoga Vacation to Hawaii or a one year Unlimited Yoga Membership.