Throughout 2016, I will be guiding you through some fundamental yogic philosophy that you can practice on and off your mat. Scroll down the first segment of "Touching Your Toes Has Nothing To Do With It."
For the fifth year, I am participating in the Yoga Reaches Out New England Yogathon! Not only will I be on the Gillette Stadium field practicing yoga on May 1, but I am also on the planning committee, will be assisting the on-site organizers, and will be providing hands-on assistance to yoga participants.
Approximately 1,000 yogis will come together at this event to create seva (selfless service) by raising funds for organizations that impact the health and well-being of children. Yoga Reaches Out New England Yogathon 2016 will benefit Boston Children's Hospital. Last year, $325,000 was raised for local children's charities, and nearly 1.8 million dollars has been raised since 2010! The 2016 YRO goal is to raise $350,000! All proceeds are donated to children in need.
In the West, we consider “yoga” to be a physical practice where we move our body, stretch, strengthen, and balance. However, this is only a fraction of the full practice of yoga. One eighth, actually. The Yoga Sutras, written by a man named Patanjali over 2,000 years ago, is considered to be one of yoga’s most sacred texts. Patanjali lays out an eightfold path to attaining a higher state of consciousness, one in which the practitioner learns to still the craziness of the mind. This path is yoga.
The First Limb of Yoga: "Yama"
Patanjali considered the yamas the great, mighty and universal vows. He instructs us that they should be practiced on all levels (actions, words, and thoughts) and that are not confined to class, place, time or concept of duty (YS 2.31). The yamas are the moral virtues which purify human nature and contribute to health and happiness of society. Each of the five yamas is considered a wise characteristic. The Yoga Sutra describes what happens when these five behaviors outlined below become part of a person's daily life.
The Five Yamas
1. Ahimsa – Compassion for all living things The word ahimsa literally means not to injure or show cruelty to any creature or any person in any way whatsoever. Ahimsa means kindness, friendliness, and thoughtful consideration of other people and things. Ahimsa implies that in every situation we should adopt a considerate attitude and do no harm.
2. Satya – Commitment to truthfulness Satya means "to speak the truth," yet it is not always desirable to speak the truth on all occasions, for it could harm someone unnecessarily. We all have to consider what we say, how we say it, and in what way it could affect others. Satya should never come into conflict with our efforts to behave with ahimsa.
3. Asteya - Non-stealing
Asteya is to take nothing that does not belong to you. This also means that if we are in a situation where someone entrusts something to us or confides in us, we do not take advantage of him or her. Non-stealing includes not using something for a different purpose than intended, as well. The practice of asteya implies not taking anything that has not been freely given.
4. Brahmacharya - Sense control
Brahmacharya is used mostly in the sense of abstinence, particularly in relationship to sexual activity. Brahmacharya suggests that we should form relationships that foster our understanding of the highest truths. Brahmacharya means responsible behavior with respect to our goal of moving toward the truth.
5. Aparigraha - Neutralizing the desire to acquire/hoard wealth
Aparigraha means to take only what is necessary, and not to take advantage of a situation or act greedy. We should only take what we have earned; if we take more, we are exploiting someone else. Aparigraha also implies letting go of our attachments to things and an understanding that impermanence and change are the only constants.
Yama Practice Tip
Pick a yama to focus on for a few days or a week, and try and put it into action in thought, speech and behaviors. Bonus tip: Email me to start a 1:1 conversation about your efforts working with the yamas.
Private Sessions with Joanna
Personalized instruction is a valuable tool for students of all levels. Yoga practice provide the perfect opportunity to address goals and work on areas of interest. Sessions can take place in your home or at a studio. I am available for private sessions in the styles of therapeutic yoga for emotional well-being, vinyasa flow, yin, restorative, and prenatal yoga.
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