Yoga is far more than a workout. It’s a mind-body EXPERIENCE. Find out how its basic foundations apply to all aspects of life in this unique discussion on the Five Pillars of Yoga!
A nice sweaty yoga class always brings a good workout and LOTS of thinking. I swear, if you ever have writers block….GO TO YOGA! At my studio at least, the teachers are ALWAYS saying the most inspiring words and really making you consider new ideas and perspectives. Similar to my post about ‘detoxing your mind‘, a class I took recently got me thinking about a lot of things as well.
The focus of the class was on the Five Pillars of Yoga. My teacher wanted us to focus on the foundation and the basis for our whole yoga practice. She wanted us to work on the basics of getting strong in the founding principles of the practice instead of just trying to rush through and move from pose to pose.
The class was tough. Physically and mentally. It involved a lot of long, slow holds and a lot of repetition to really work on nailing the basic postures. But more than that, it got me thinking about how the Five Pillars of Yoga not only have powerful meaning within your practice, but also in your entire life. They can all be applied to everyday living and will help you stay grounded just as they do during yoga.
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In yoga, breath is the most important element. Yoga literally means breath with movement and it is the driving force behind your entire practice. It informs each movement, guides the flow, and allows you to work through the most difficult of sequences.
In life, breath can serve much of the same purpose. It’s the one constant in your life and it’s something you can always come back to in moments of stress and worry. Breath is a reminder that you’re alive, you’re present, you’re OKAY. No matter what else is happening in your life, your breath keeps you moving and it’s always there to support you. Literally and figuratively.
In yoga, drishti refers to your gaze. It is the basis for developing a focused intention and concentration during your practice. As you move through different poses your drishti changes, but it’s meaning never alters. It keeps your grounded and focused on what you’re doing in the present moment. It keeps your mind from wandering and it keeps you centered. Drishti is one of the most important elements for entering a state of meditation.
In life, your gaze can be your focus on your goals, hopes, and dreams for your life. What you set out to do can be accomplished if you stay focused, work hard, and keep your aspirations in mind. Gazing towards your future and striving to make a better tomorrow for yourself gives you something to base an intention on. Everyday you can set out to accomplish certain things and stay on top of your obligations.
Foundation (legs, core, arms)
In yoga, the foundation of your practice is keep your legs, core, and arms engaged in every movement. They create a strong base for each pose and my ‘turning on’ these body parts you light up your muscles and really work your body. These key body parts also give you all the strength behind each posture. They inform each thing you do in your practice and they allow you to explore the possibilities that your body has. Rooting your legs in every posture, lighting up your hands, and tightening your core builds awareness and also keeps you safe from injury.
In life, your legs, core, and arms are what literally carry your through every. damn. day. The saying goes: “As the foundation is laid, so the walls of the house will rise.” So keeping these body parts strong and stable is key to staying healthy. They are your bodies powerhouses and you shouldn’t go a day without be grateful for all they do for you.
In yoga, heat is all around you. The room is literally heated…but more importantly heat is created within you. From your focus, from your core, and literally from all the movement you’re doing. The heat enhances strength, increases flexibility, improves posture, gives mental clarity, balances blood pressure, and improves ability to concentrate.
In life, heat is the fire within you. Your passion. Your drive. Your determination. It challenges you, but it also keeps you motivated and keeps you moving.
Vinyasa (flow, movement)
In yoga, vinyasa is the culminating element. It is what all the other pillars lead to. The flow and the movement of the class. You can’t have this pillar without the others. It is literally the linking of body movement with breath specific sequences, the setting of an intention for one’s personal yoga practice, and taking the necessary steps toward reaching that goal.
In life, movement is all around us. We need physical movement to stay healthy and happy. But as I always say, movement should be natural and fun, NOT FORCED. So try to incorporate movement into your day by doing what you enjoy. Your body and mind will thank you for it. Also, life has its own sort of ebb and flow. Sometimes there are high points and peaks, and other times there are low points and valleys. But each experience gives us something to learn from. We are defined by everything we go through and can improve based on everything we are forced to face.
I can’t tell you how much yoga means to me and how much I continually learn from it. It’s something I hope to have in my life forever and I am so grateful to be able to do it. One of my friends recently found out she would no longer be able to practice yoga for some health reasons and I know how tough that is for her since it was one of her passions. So just be thankful everyday for what your body can do. Treat it right and try to incorporate these yogic principles into your own life.
Do you practice yoga regularly?
Which pillar of yoga do you most relate to?
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