An extremely simple quote that struck me when I came across it in one of Ram Dass’ lectures. It contributed to a shift in the way I live my day to day life as yogically as possible… Or at least try my best!
During Yoga Teacher Training I learned that the word “yoga” in sanskrit (the language of yoga) means to join or yoke together. Mind, body, heart. Years later, when I heard Ram Dass say in one of his lectures “It’s all yoga”, I thought what a simple yet perfect way to explain this integration of how we take lessons learned on the mat into the way we move, breathe, live and interact with our bodies, minds, hearts, and how we relate to the world.
I have found many activities off the mat that bring the same sense of grounding me in the present moment, including when I’m working as a bedside nurse, taking care of my animals, a deep and meaningful conversation with a loved one to name a few.
Learning about Yogic Philosophy during Yoga Teacher Training changed the way I thought about Yoga altogether. Yes, I had felt for a long time before that yoga was as much a spiritual and emotional practice as a physical one. But it wasn’t until delving into the Yamas and Niyamas that I realized yoga is actually a way of life, one which I wanted to strive for.
The Yamas and Niyamas are guidelines in which we interact with the world around us set out by the ancient yogis. They are the first 2 “limbs” of the 8 fold path of yoga described in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.
The Yamas define how we should try to interact with the world around us. They include: Ahimsa (non-harming), Satya (truthfulness), Asteya (non-stealing), Brahmacharya (moderation), Aparigraha (non-attachment).
With the Yamas in mind, I ask myself regularly how am I interacting with the world? Am I being both truthful and non-harming in my words and actions? Am I not taking more than my share from the Earth? How can I better practice moderation? Because too much of anything is just that, too much. And finally, can I live less attached to certain comforts or items? It’s one thing to love, it’s another to be attached and feel like you own anything, because all things come and go in this world.
The Niyamas are habits for healthy living according to yogic philosophy. They include Saucha (purity), Santosha (contentment), Tapas (discipline), Svadyaya (self-study), Ishvarapranidhana (devotion).
With the Niyamas in mind, I ask myself how well I am taking care of me. As a caregiver it’s ultra-important to take care of myself to be able to take care of others. I ask, how pure are my thoughts? Can I sink in and be content even in the face of stressors? Am I keeping up with a regular self-care practice and taking time to reflect and devoted to my yoga practice?
And coming back to Ram Dass’ quote “It’s all yoga”. Life is all a practice of yoking parts of ourselves together. A sense of wholeness. As well as coming into a sense of union with one another. Not easy but simple. And in my opinion a life-long yogic journey that I feel blessed to be on.