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10 Yoga Lessons that Make Us Better Persons

by Laurence-Emmanuelle Bédard Published on July 6, 2015

The benefits of yoga, both physical and psychological, are no longer debated. It sculpts the body while nurturing a feeling of inner peace. But do you know the philosophy behind this practice? When performing yoga postures, it is important to remember its basic principles.

1. Non-violence – Ahimsa

Be forgiving to yourself and to others! Nonviolence applies to all situations. Yoga teaches us to cultivate awareness of our thoughts, words, and actions. In that way, it can turn anger into compassion and forgiveness of our mistakes. Better to be master of our own thoughts and emotions than to project them onto others.

2. Honesty – Asteya

Stealing from somebody – be it material goods, ideas, or information – is against yogic teachings. You should have enough self-confidence and independence to support your needs. Similarly, you never interrupt someone during a conversation and you spend only the money you have.

3. Moderation - Aparigraha

Life must be lived in moderation and balance. Aparigraha means that you should not sweat the details and neither spend nor consume to excess. Avoid living in the past or projecting yourself into the future. It's the moment that counts! You also need to achieve balance in your life. What share of your time do you allocate to leisure, to work, to your tasks? Have you found balance?

4. Humility – Brahmacharya

Be happy with what you have. After all, it is up to you to decide whether your glass is half empty or half full! Brahmacharya invites you to see your life as a masterpiece. See your mistakes as brushstrokes that can be painted over with new colours. Humility also means that you should be grateful towards life.

5. Sincerity - Satyatre

To be honest with others, you first need to be honest with yourself. You respect your body when you practise yoga to the best of your ability. In everyday life, that means that your actions reflect your thoughts. That is the only way that you can be honest with others. On the other hand, you also need to respect the truth of others. We cannot impose our ideas on others.

6. Independence - Aparigraha

You are the master of your destiny! Your happiness and well-being cannot depend on somebody or something outside of you. For example, when you buy something, you feel a certain excitement about this new acquisition – a feeling that is most ephemeral. Happiness and truth should be constant and cultivated on a daily basis.

7. Self-discipline - Tapas

Being faithful to one's intentions, goals, visions, and personal morality is an art! Observe what makes you deviate from your path and find out how to remedy the situation. For example, when you miss a yoga class because you are too tired, consider whether it isn't at precisely those moments that you get the most out of it.

8. Introspection – Svadyaya

As a yogi, you should take the time to sit down with yourself to think about how your thoughts, words, and actions represent who you are. Determine your strengths and weaknesses, and then try to work to address the latter. To achieve that, do you need to change things internally or externally? It's up to you to determine and then to put the changes into practice.

9. Abandonment - Ishvara Pranidhana

Surrender to what is greater than yourself. You are one with your surroundings. You are an integral part of the universal energy. Each cell and each atom vibrates at the same frequency. Under all the layers of our experiences and individual perceptions, we are the same light. Concentrate on your breathing and discover how you are designed in harmony with nature.

10. Simplicity - Saucha

Tidy the corners of your consciousness in the same way that you clean your home! This means taking the time to cleanse the body and mind of toxins and intruders. For example, eating fresh foods and drinking water energizes the body and mind. Let go of unnecessary objects hanging about in your home. You will feel refreshed and full of energy!

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by Laurence-Emmanuelle Bédard

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