Yoga: Beyond the Physical Practice

Hello humans! My name’s Maria (@chubbiwubbi) and I’m reporting to you from the comfort of my couch. It's officially day ‘who’s counting?’ of this social distancing, and I’m here to share some loving insight on the practice of Yoga and how practicing, at any effort, can support you during this experience. 


spiritual girl in glasses

 

For this blog post, I’m writing with intention. Whatever brought you here, know that I’m writing this for you. For this to have the impact I’d desire, I encourage you to grab a journal for reflection. If you just don’t feel like it, hey… that’s okay! You know how to get back here when you’re ready to participate. Till then, just be.


Notice your patterns. Take a deep breath when you’re finished reading this sentence. Go on. Inhale. Pause. Exhale. Pause. This is a prime time to practice all levels of compassion, from apathy to empathy. Draw a line, whether on paper or envision one in your mind, with APATHY on one end, and EMPATHY on the other. APATHY is a lack of emotion. EMPATHY is overflowing compassion. Without judgment, place yourself on this line. For me, right now, I’m teetering closer to apathy: empathy sometimes requires and takes up a lot out of us. Apathy can be a comfortable retreat. No matter where you are, remember there is no judgment. Find a comfortable place somewhere in there. 


Stuff out here can feel pretty heavy these days. You can sometimes feel your life unfolding panel by panel before you, future so cloudy… but ask yourselves is it any more or any less uncertain than ever before? The answer is no. We are just as in control of the future now as we were 2 months ago. We can only control how we respond to what’s directly around us and within us. 

 

zen tapestry

 

In yoga, there are 8 limbs. The yoga you see take place in photos is called Asana. Asana is the physical postures of a yoga practice. Asana is limb 3 of the 8 limbs of yoga.


The first 2 limbs are called the Yamas and Niyamas. 


The Yamas deal with one’s integrity and ethics. Think of these as the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you’d have them do unto you. They are non-violence (ahimsa), truthfulness (Satya), non-stealing (Asteya), Brahmacharya (self-restraint), and Aparigraha (non-possessiveness). As you read some of these words, notice what feelings come up. 


The Niyamas deal with spiritual observances. Think of these as rituals, and applying a sense of self-discipline to your practices. They are cleanliness (saucha), contentment (santosha), heat (tapas), and self-study (svadhyaya).


This all sounds like a lot of words right now, and that’s okay! Take a break if you need to. If you feel inspired, keep up with it! By doing so, you are practicing HEAT (tapas) and SELF STUDY (svadhyaya) and you didn’t even know it! By pushing through a moment of discomfort, you are building spiritual heat and by investing time in yourself through note-taking and uploading new information, you are studying the self.


So, let’s keep going?


Cool!


How can we apply these limbs to our daily lives? How do these ethical suggestions and spiritual observances manifest as practices? I’ll give you some examples, and the rest I empower you to do on your own.


Non-violence (Ahimsa)


It’s important to know that no matter what the details of the answers to the above questions are, only one thing can the catalyst for change and that’s CHOICE. We are presented with choices on a breath by breath basis. Ahimsa asks you to CHOOSE non-violence. This can show up in the way you communicate with others and with yourself. It can also show up in the way you react to things. Reactions can sometimes come from a place of impulse. Mechanisms and patterns that are programmed to take place when triggered by an outside source. Take a moment and write down/think about an example or two of how you may have resorted to REACT to things that may have held a little anger, animosity, bitterness. Remember NO JUDGMENTS. Now take some time to imagine yourself in these situations, and envision yourself taking a big, beautiful breath instead of reacting. Imagine that you are so empowered by your ability to impact GOOD, that you take 10 seconds to process your trigger and CHOOSE to respond in a non-violent way. This can present itself as speaking softly and slowly, not raising your voice, or my favorite: walking away.


Non-possessiveness (Aparigraha)


This one I feel is important during this time. We can feel a possessiveness with control and with our outcomes. Every time you feel yourself being weighted by worry, CHOOSE to breathe out the tension and trust that you are exactly where you’re supposed to be. You can also show a sense of possessiveness with people’s attention. When we isolate ourselves, we become subliminally hungry for affection and validation. When you notice yourself staring blankly at your phone screen scrolling away, blink a few times and put your phone down! Release the need to be distracted.


Now for the Niyamas! These can be a little easier to navigate as they don’t require so much internal processing.


Cleanliness (Saucha)


This one’s easy you guys! Did you know that every time you pick up your clothes or wipe down a countertop, you’re practicing yoga? Wild. This one I very much encourage you to do daily! Perhaps viewing cleaning as a self-care ritual instead of a chore may make it more worthwhile to do for you! Take some time to write down/think about 3 things you can do today to achieve/maintain cleanliness in your home. See if you can clean something you don’t normally clean! Like… behind the fridge… or behind your toilet! Scrub your tub. Wipe down your floorboards. Spice it up a bit, you know?


Contentment (Santosha)


This one is probably my favorite. It’s a gentle reminder, always in my mind. When I’m on my couch, on my porch, painting, making Kandi, writing, talking to my friends online, petting my cats… I feel contentment. The best way to practice contentment is to practice GRATITUDE. Take some time to write down/think about a few things you’re truly grateful for. Notice how you feel. Notice how feeling gratitude can make you feel content with what you have. A sense of ease comes. Welcome it!


Self-Study (Svadhyaya)


This one is challenging for me! Although, I did show you how something as easy as reading a blog satisfies the practice of self-study. Do you want to learn how to make a perler? Kandi cuff? That’s self-study. Do you want to take up a 7-day meditation practice? That’s self-study. Self-study gives us a connectedness to the knowledge that came before us, and that connectedness is Yoga. If you’re interested in these practices, you can keep up with your self-study by looking into the other Yamas & Niyamas, and maybe even the other limbs of yoga!


Yoga practice

 

I hope this blog has found you well. I hope it leaves you inspired and I hope you begin to notice these subtle practices in your life. 


Much love!


Maria <3 

1 comment

This is such a wonderful article! I loved it & learned many new things in it!! Thanks so much for sharing, love!! :) PLUR!!

Rachel Rene Dickens May 10, 2020

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