Adopt Eight Yogic Steps for Mindful Mavens
As a yoga teacher and practitioner for over a decade, I love to refer back to the basic tenets of yoga, outlined by the sage Patanjali in the Indian sacred text the Yoga Sutras, to guide my spiritual side. My favorite version of the Sutras is the first translation by a woman, Nischala Joy Devi, called The Secret Power of Yoga. It’s a great read if you’d like to learn more about these ancient teachings from a fellow femme’s perspective.
We all need some sort of road map to help us stay the course and make minor adjustments along the way. The following steps, outlined in the Sutras as the eight limbs of yoga, are great everyday guidelines for mindful bliss.
Yamas. These five guidelines give insights into how to act toward others, and they promote nonviolence, truthfulness, moderation, greedlessness, and not stealing. An example of nonviolence is to make lifestyle choices that lessen your carbon footprint, such as riding your bike to work, eating fruits and vegetables in season, carrying a reusable bag, and turning off the water while brushing your teeth.
Niyamas. These five guidelines focus on how you treat yourself, and they promote purity, contentment, austerity, self-study, and letting go. An example of self-study involves focusing within to recognize patterns, review expectations, and practice acceptance of what is. By doing so, you become able to better understand who you are and why you react the way you do, and to accept situations beyond your control. Let go of that dirty word should.
Asanas (poses). Practicing poses, such as down dog, cobra, and lion’s pose, is what, in the West, we commonly refer to as yoga. The physical practice of yoga is a great way to still the mind and awaken the body. Use your body as a catalyst for change by observing all the sensations that transpire in challenging poses or challenging situations in life. Our bodies hold keys for amazing transformations.
Pranayama (breath work). Breath control is a powerful tool for use during our daily lives. Notice how your breath becomes shallow when you’re on deadline or waiting in a long line. Take deep, full breaths to induce a calming effect and cleanse and balance your nervous system. Take ten deep, full breaths before heading in for your annual review, and notice the powerful effect. My three favorite prana practices are unveiled in the upcoming section on breath.