The Yamas and Niyamas of Hatha Yoga can be seen as the ‘do’s’ and ‘don’ts’ of the philosophy. So for example we don’t harm as suggested by the Yama Ahimsa and we do keep our bodies fit in the example of Tapas the Niyama that advises us to build heat in the body to cleanse it. Yamas and Niyamas are the first two of the 8 limbs of the body of Hatha yoga and they give us a code of conduct if you like. I like to see them as an attitude or behaviour to avoid or exemplify. We could see the Yamas as the attitude we have towards things and people outside of ourselves and the Niyamas how we relate towards ourselves inwardly.
Starting with Ahimsa this is the act of non-harming and can be seen as the absence of injustice or cruelty and instead kindness, friendliness and thoughtful consideration of other people and things. The second Yama is Satya and this requires us to be truthful. So we speak our truth with consideration for others feelings thus applying the Yama of Ahimsa at the same time! When we experience truth, the madness of finding fault with others disappears.
The quote that is reminding me why I practice Yoga at the moment is this definition of Peace: it does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart. Anon.
My inspiring reading is: The Heart of Yoga, developing a personal practice by TKV Desikachar. A book I dip into at regular intervals and have done so for many years.
Stay present and breathe deeply.
As Summer starts to come to a close the season change-over takes on an unpredictable and fickle nature. Hot, warm, dry days turn overnight into cooler, windy, wet ones. We need to make plans to accommodate the effect these changes will have on our routines and habits. When we rise, eat and sleep will need to alter to allow for the shorter days and cooler temperatures. It’s the time of year for change. Our young people may be starting new adventures in their lives: school, university or a job. Our nests may be emptying as a result. We may be moving or renovating our homes. There may be life changes we are experiencing that mimic the changes occurring in the natural world around us. Nature and our lives are dynamic, transient, unpredictable and temporary.
How does the natural world cope with the changes afoot at this time of the year? Animals prepare for hibernation building complex nests in which to live over winter. Gorging themselves on the summer harvest to lay down reserves in their bodies to stay warm as their physiology prepares to slow down. Trees rely on their deep root network to hold them firm in the ground. And both of these examples can help us cope with the changes afoot that will affect us.
We can make time to nurture ourselves in preparation for the Winter, giving ourselves time to notice subtle changes in our health, when we might be getting a little run down or sluggish. From a Yoga perspective we can refresh our understanding of the Yamas and Niyamas: the roots of the Hatha Yoga system. We will, week by week, do this in our regular class whilst on our mat. From a physical perspective it is an excellent time to reconnect with our practice after the heady days of summer. We will receive the support of our mats and concentrate on mobilising the spine to help us feel the practice and the space it will create in our bodies. We will use the breath to focus our minds and this connection with our breath will ensure we stay focussed. We will use balance sequences that take us away from our centre ensuring that in the midst of challenge we stay present with good foundations to hold us steady.
I am looking forward to reconnecting with those of you that I shall meet on your mat after the summer break. And for those I don’t see on a regular basis via the written word through this blog.
Stay present and breathe deeply.