Friday, August 13, 2010

The Foundation of Yoga

natural method yoga studio, Amsterdam NY

The foundation of Yoga is built on diligence, lovingkindness, equanimity, sharing joy, and compassionate service to others. These practices transform us and others around us, creating a better world. They also create good karma.

The underlying tool used to change old, negative habit energy and to embody our values deeply is mindfulness. It can be called mindfulness, attentiveness, Presence, Remembrance, open observation or being present.

Practice mindfulness in all you do, everyday. It is the catalyst for all great transformations.

The foundation of goodness and purity that Yoga is built upon is rooted in ten moral precepts. All Yogis & Yoginis use mindfulness to practice these basic aims, everyday to the best of their ability.


Ahimsa- non-harm: non-violence, non-harm in any way to all life forms & the natural world. Protect life, seek to live in harmony with nature. Let none of your thoughts, intentions, or actions cause harm to any others. Eat a plant-based, whole food diet to prevent disease and to minimize harm to all others.

Satya- truthfulness: deep honesty, don’t mislead others in any way. Don’t gossip, spread rumors, or pretend to know more than you do. Don’t complain a lot or chatter just to fill the quiet, let your words be meaningful & elevating.

Bramacharya- sexual-purity & respect: if you have a vow of chastity, joyfully honor it. If you are in a committed relationship, honor your vow, respecting yourself & your loved one, remain faithful. Never commit or allow sexual abuse.

Asteya- non-stealing: don’t take, vandalize or abuse what is not yours. This includes not harming the Earth, because we all share her resources- to harm the environment is to steal from All.

Apraigraha- non-covetousness: Don’t covet or become overly attached to material things. Don’t become attached to people in a selfish way. Acquire only simple, necessary possessions.


Saucha- purity/cleanliness: keep a simple, uncluttered, neat home; keep your body clean, and even more importantly, clear your mind of clutter- think, act, speak purely.

Santosha- contentment: be satisfied with your experiences and with what you have or are given. Aim to live simply but deeply.

Tapas- heat/diligence: strive in your practice. Don’t practice extreme austerities, but do exercise self-control. Avoid wantonly stimulating the senses- thoroughly enjoy the TV or radio with all of your attention, then shut it off before it becomes background noise; don’t use the phone, computer or other technology just as a distraction; don’t eat without mindfulness or because of sadness or boredom, and only eat foods that create lightness, energy, harmony & health.

Swadyaya- Self-study: study of the Essential Self, the Spirit. Read on Yoga philosophy, spiritual topics and dive deeply into studying your own faith, or exploring the faiths of the world. There is a universal Source of all of the world’s major religions- Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism & Buddhism. Read to learn, practice what resonates with you. Maybe seek out a qualified spiritual teacher- one with lots of peace, wisdom and who embodies what they teach. Remember that an ounce of practice equals a pound of theory, so for all that you study, make sure to practice that much more.

Ishwara-pranidhana surrender to the will of God or surrender to the flow of the Universe: Think of this as it feels comfortable to you, but the two are one Truth. Ishwara-pranidhana means going with the flow, not living passively, but instead staying receptive & responsive to the unfolding of Reality. Don’t try to fit the square peg into the round hole. Let your expectations and plans be shattered by Life, only to find the outcome inevitably more perfect. Don’t stress trying to control what is beyond your control. Surrender deeply to your spiritual beliefs and honor them with all your heart and soul. Trust in the benevolence of the Universe. Live as an example of your highest beliefs. Surrender the ego to make room for Truth.


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