Exercise Your Soul!

The reason I love yoga class is that it improves your body as well as your mind and soul. You leave wanting to be more calm, treat people better, and be a nicer person… almost like church!

Part of this comes from something called “PATANJALI’S EIGHT LIMBS OF YOGA.”

The American Fitness Association of America, or AFAA (www.affa.com), certifies personal trainers and provides continuing education about many areas of fitness, including yoga. AFFA teaches that Patanjali wrote the Yoga Sutras, and he became one of the best known yogis while popularizing these guideline for yoga practices.

I would like to share with you the first one, so you can start exercising your soul along with your body!

LIMB ONE: THE YAMAS (Things to Restrict) The following five restrictions are meant to clear away negative thoughts and actions to make way for pure and clean living.

Do no harm. This yama means non-violence or non-injury to oneself and others. This idea is central to yoga, as the focus of yoga is non-competitive. The idea of no pain, no gain, which is sometimes part of the practice of conventional Western fitness modalities, does not belong in yoga. Ahimsa also means using non-violent words, thinking non-violent thoughts and avoiding negative self-talk, such as I’m stupid or I’m fat. Negative self-talk is essentially doing harm to oneself. Ahimsa is the embodiment of honoring oneself and others.

Do not lie. This yama also relates to self and to interaction with others and reminds yogis to act in complete truth at all times. According to ancient yogic scriptures, the truth cannot bring harm. Being truthful in all parts of one’s life creates higher standards and builds loftier character.

Do not steal. This yama reminds yogis not to take something that does not belong to them. Aside from tangible items, it is possible to steal intangible things as well, such as another person’s confidence, pride or attention.

Do not ignore Virtue or Abstinence. This yama is believed by some to be more about virtue than abstinence. It reminds yogis to think of others with love and respect rather than with selfishness and lust. This yama does not demand that every yogi should live a life without a spouse or children and be celibate. This yama, like the others, simply encourages purity of thought and action, in this case, in relation to love and sexual behaviors.

Do not be greedy. This yama is a reminder not to accumulate unnecessary things. Excessive possessions add clutter to life and bring clutter to the mind and spirit as well. This yama encourages simplification and letting go of materialistic desires and envy. Again, purity of thought and action are emphasized.


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