The Yamas of yoga, as noted in previous articles, are designed to be a moral compass and guide for our personal actions and behaviors. It seems only fitting that during this time of division that we are facing as a country, following the many months of rising tension that preceded the election, that practicing the Yamas of yoga can be especially helpful.
The Yama of Asteya presents itself as one of the most pivotal moral guides during this time. This Yama, most basically, means non-stealing. As with the other Yamas, the literal meaning of the word only scratches the surface of how deep the definition can extend into our lives. Non-stealing does not only mean that we should not steal the property of another—it also means that we should not steal others rights, happiness, ideas or safety/security.
It is important to remember during this difficult time that in an effort to promote what we love, we might also be outwardly bashing what we hate. While this may seem justified in the eyes of the individual making the claims—there are always people on the receiving end of these messages that may begin to feel attacked, robbed of their own ability to express their ideas, or in the worst case scenario—potentially begin to feel unsafe. When we make this transition, we are stealing from them in many senses of the word.
There is a difference between promoting what we love and bashing what we hate. One can exist without the other. One, in fact, should exist without the other. It is completely plausible to spread the messages we want to spread in a positive light—i.e., promoting what we love. However, the moment this message takes a turn and begins to put down someone elses beliefs in an effort to give more leverage to our own—well that is when we are guilty of violating Asteya.
It is a fine line to walk, but one we need to be mindful of. This can be applied to times much less volatile than the current climate of our country (such as promoting yoga by bashing Pilates, as a simple example), but it seems applicable to address a situation everyone can relate to presently.
Regardless of the political side we might resonate with currently, there is a lesson here in learning how to spread our messages through love, rather than through hate and anger. To remember that in times like these, we are granted no extra right to steal from others. We have no free pass to stop viewing other people as individuals and to view them instead as targets for our anger and hurt.
Asteya is a reminder that stealing, in any sense of the word, is harmful—but especially so when we rob others of their rights or feelings of security. Besides, much more can be accomplished toward our own agendas when we approach others with positive passion for our views rather than with negativity, anger and hostility.
Mindfulness, or becoming tuned into the present moment with complete awareness, has benefits for all aspects of holistic wellness. For November, the benefits of mindfulness on the ‘professional self’ will be explored.
The beauty of completely tuning into the present moment is that it allows us to let go of our thoughts. Removing our attachment to our thoughts means that we can begin to connect to other parts of ourselves more deeply. When our existence isn’t clouded by a racing mind, we feel more deeply, connect more with others, and reacquaint with ourselves.
One ‘side-effect’ of reacquainting with ourselves is that we might begin to recognize what brings us joy, what lights us up inside and what we are feeling pulled to do. This is a profound experience and when achieved, provides an opportunity to engage with our true sense of purpose.
Some people have already found this in their work. If that is the case, incorporating more mindfulness into your work can serve to invigorate your drive and your passion. It can spark new ideas or new projects. It can reignite that internal fire for something you already love.
Others, however, haven’t yet found their professional identity or their true sense of purpose. Even further, not everyone can give up their current lifestyle and career to simply pursue what sets their soul on fire. If either of these is the case, finding fulfilment through a process of trial and error (utilizing mindfulness) can be critical to truly connecting with your purpose.
One opportunity to incorporate mindful intentions into your professional identify is to seek out those opportunities that make you feel happy to be alive. This is where a hobby comes in. When we are being truly mindful, we realize with much more depth how certain activities make us feel. If painting, drawing, photography or art in general make you feel enthusiastic and energized, finding ways to bring this into your life through a hobby can be fulfilling and eye-opening.
Sometimes, hobbies can become a side-income. If physical fitness and spreading personal self-care is an area of passion, for example, maybe a certification in personal training is an option for some evening and/or weekend work.
Even further, hobbies can turn into meaningful volunteer work. If leading and teaching, counseling and mentoring, or supporting others is something that brings you great joy, for instance, there are opportunities abound to volunteer in service to others in these capacities.
These are but a few examples; the true goal is to connect with what lights YOU up inside through a process of intentional mindfulness. Once you identify what this is, find a way to do it! Whether it be in your career, or through some version of a hobby—introduce it into your life with a renewed sense of passion and internal light. Sometimes these hobbies lead to career changes, sometimes they don’t. The point is to make room for your life purpose and meaning to grow—because having this is one of the most energizing and fulfilling parts of being human.
Winding down at the end of the day can be difficult both mentally and physically. Preparing to clear our minds of thoughts and free our bodies of tension can be intimidating, especially for those who have a difficult time falling and staying asleep. Yoga, however, can be a wonderful outlet for this calming effort. Below are 5 simple yoga poses to consider moving through and building into your evening routine.
Finding stillness and grounding energy in this position is a great place to begin your evening practice. Getting into this pose is simple. Simply stand with both feet together, arms down at your sides and palms facing forward. As you inhale, raise your shoulders up toward your ears and the exhale guide them down and back to improve your posture. Feel your feet grounding into your mat and send energy up your legs. While this pose looks simple from the outside, there are many places in your body you can be sending your attention to. Everything in your body is working in this pose, which allows you to leave your head for a little while to focus your energy on your mind.
From your mountain pose position, take a big inhale and let your arms rise up above your head (you can even add in a gentle backbend at this point to stretch your abdomen and chest). On the exhale, fold down your center channel and let your hands come down to the mat. If your hands cannot reach your mat, let them find your shins or knees, wherever feels most comfortable to you. Take a few seconds here to breathe. Feel your hamstrings releasing tension. Observe how your lower back feels. These are two places where we tend to carry a lot of stress and negative energy. If you would like, feel free to cross your arms here and swing from side to side.
As you hang in forward fold, take your last few breaths before transitioning into your child’s pose. On the inhale from your forward fold position, allow yourself to rise up halfway and on the exhale, release back into your fold. From here, bend your knees (if needed) and place your hands on the mat in front of you. Bring your right foot followed by your left into the plank position. Take a deep inhale. On the exhale, bring your knees down to the mat and sit back into your child’s pose by resting on your heels as your hands stretch out in front of you and the tops of your feet ground into the mat. Take a few deep breaths in this position. Notice how your back stretches in this pose; pay attention to the release of your shoulders. Let your head rest comfortably on your mat and simply be still.
4.Reclined Spinal Twist
When you feel like you have remained in child’s pose long enough, inhale as you lift your chest and head off the mat and come into a kneeling position with your spine straight. From here, exhale as you bring both of your legs out in front of you as you make your way down to a reclined position on your mat. Take a deep inhale in this reclined position and bring your knees into your chest. On the next exhale, grab your right knee with your left hand and allow your legs to fall gently to the left side as your gaze looks to the right. Remain here for a few breaths feeling the stretch throughout your body. Inhale deeply and bring your knees back into your chest. On the next exhale, grab your left knee with your right hand and allow your legs to fall gently to your right side as your gaze looks to the left. Remain here for a few breaths. Take a big inhale and on the exhale, bring your knees back into your chest. You can repeat this sequence as many times as you like or remain here with your knees tucked into your chest as a way to continue stretching your lower back.
From your reclined position with your knees tucked into your chest, move into a fully reclined position with your feet stretched out in front of you. This is your final pose, your resting pose, or savasana. You want to be comfortable in this pose so make whatever adjustments you need to remain relaxed in this pose for about 2-3 uninterrupted minutes. Focus on your breath in this pose and bring your attention back to the breath whenever your mind begins to wander. Find stillness and relaxation in this posture. Remain here until you are done with your practice and are ready to head to bed.
An added breathing technique to enhance the calm feeling. Start out by using a breath count of six seconds on the inhale and six seconds on the exhale, repeat two times, then progressively lengthen your exhale, so inhale for six seconds and exhale seven seconds and do this for 2X’s, then inhale six seconds and exhale 8, do this 2Xs. By progressively lengthening your exhale you activate the parasympathetic nervous system and increase your feeling of calmness thus allowing you to get a more restful night sleep.
Wishing you a restful night’s sleep,
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Rebecca Dawson, 500 Hour Certified Yoga Alliance Teacher and Therapist (Yoga Therapy experience is not affiliated with Yoga Alliance)
Therapy Certification is through the IAYT (International Association of Yoga Therapists).
Rebecca has a desire to help people who are experiencing pain in any part of their body either due to injuries, neurological disorders or undefined causes. Rebecca has experienced a few injuries which were incurred by accidents. One was a car accidents where she had a compression of the Lumbar spine and the other was a skiing accident where she had dislocated her femur bone. Using yoga techniques and other holistic techniques she is now pain free and would like to help others to lead a pain free life. Rebecca has private classes available upon appointment. First initial consultation will be free and will be a twenty minute phone conference call which will be set up to get acquainted with the client. After that an appointment will be made. Please email email@example.com or call 267 718 6444 for details.