Most of us are introduced to yoga as a physical practice. Keeping the body tuned up is important, but not at the expense of shying away from examining our moral compass. Yoga is a complete system of both physical and mental practices. Perhaps that’s why people get hooked on yoga as they go deeper. Yoga has its own set of guidelines set out in the Yoga Sutras by Patanjali called the Yamas and Niyamas. Throughout 2018, the Evolution community has been exploring the Yamas and Niyamas – yoga’s guidelines for living an ethical life – one at a time. If you missed reading these posts every month, here’s a quick summary with links to each practice.

YAMAS – external ethics NIYAMAS – internal ethics
Ahimsa – non-harming Saucha – cleanliness
Satya – truthfulness Santosha – contentment
Asteya – non-stealing Tapas – discipline
Brahmacharya – moderation Svadhyaya – self-study
Aparigraha – simplicity Ishvarhapradhidanha – service to something bigger

Reflecting on how each of the Yamas and Niyamas can be integrated into modern life has been a practice of introspection. Here at Evolution, we love putting our scientist hat on and examining the effects of each of the components of yoga. In doing so we learn more about who we are. Living an ethical life helps us build integrity. Dr. Rachel Naomi Remed tells us that to live with integrity is to “live from a place in you that has the greatest truth”. For me, that sums up why I practice yoga. The on-the-mat and off-the-mat practices help to challenge beliefs and discover your true self. That’s where the joy resides. It’s also what grounds us.
December is the perfect month for reflection and introspection. If you have been working on the Yamas and Niyamas try journaling on the effects you have noticed this year. Which guidelines have been challenging to understand or integrate? If you have not been practicing, it’s not too late – take a look at the posts above and dig in! Try reading a post at the beginning of your practice and reflect on the guideline after your meditation. This is where the true practice of yoga resides. Stay tuned for 2019 and new opportunities to go deeper.
–  Janet Carscadden PT, DPT, E-RYT

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