Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Don't do this, do this #365Yoga

There is a saying that if you really want to integrate something, you should teach it to someone else. I've found that to be true, especially with yoga. Then creating and teaching a yoga teacher training program really drove home pieces of yoga philosophy that I had been just flirting with for years.

For the session that just started, I decided to narrow the study of Patanjali's Yoga Sutras into an in-depth look at the Yamas and the Niyamas. As a result, I've been researching how different people interpret and apply yoga's ethical guidelines. Like all of the Sutras, I wonder how best to apply the Yamas and Niyamas in the time we live in.

The five Yamas are yoga's "don't do this" list - "don't harm," "don't lie," "don't steal," etc. The Niyamas lay out five better choices to make, including staying clean, cultivating contentment and exploring your inner self. All ten are at once simple and extremely complex.

While what North America has truly embraced is Hatha Yoga, it is interesting to note that, when Patanjali laid out the eight limbs of yoga, he put the Yamas and the Niyamas first and second. Did he believe that the rules for living needed to be embraced before one was ready to tackle the other limbs? Well, that's a question for a group of yoga teacher trainees in a couple of weeks.

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