ϒOGADEVOTION

by authors Cindy Senarighi and Heidi Green

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Extra Grace Required - Our Blog

The Yamas and Niyamas – Yoga’s Ethical Foundation

April 27, 2017

Tags: Heidi, Yamas, Niyamas, Deborah Adele, Eight Fold Path

“The kingdom of heaven…you don’t die into it; you awaken into it.” Cynthia Bourgeault

The foundation of yoga practice, the first two limb's in Patanjali's eight fold path describing the spiritual technology of yoga, is a set of ethics and ethical practices called the yamas and niyamas. This ethical foundation is what distinguishes yoga as a spiritual practice, something more that just exercise. Often referred to as “jewels” the yamas and niyamas guide not only the physical practice of asana, but also have application for our lives off the yoga mat. There are many similarities between the yamas and niyamas and the Ten Commandments and the Beatitudes of our Judeo/Christian faith. But rather than try to equate them, we invite you to explore how your faith beliefs inform and deepen your understanding of this yoga philosophy and visa versa. We have found affirmation and insights into our faith, when we study the yamas and niyamas.

The yamas describe right action or principles. Perhaps the most important yama is that of ahimsa, non violence. Ahimsa encourages us to practice non violence on our yoga mats by listening to our bodies and modifying yoga shapes so as to do no harm. Off the mat, ahimas encourages us to practice the Golden Rule--to do unto others as we would have others do unto us: to practice non violence in our relationships and towards the earth. The next two yama “jewels” are satya or truth, and asteya or nonstealing. Keeping our asana practice grounded in the truth of our own bodily limitations and not comparing ourselves with others, are ways that we practice satya and asteya on the mat. These jewels encourage us to delve deeply into our faith teachings and share what we find. In our relationships, satya and asteya encourage us to communicate truthfully, from our own experience and perspective. (more…)

Led Forth in Peace: The Ethic of Nonviolence

February 16, 2017

Tags: Heidi, Deborah Adele, Yamas, Niyamas, Ahimsa, Nonviolence

“You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.”
Isaiah 55:12


To my great frustration, as I’ve aged, I have developed knee issues. If I don’t take care of my knees by the regular practice of strengthening poses such as chair, utkatasana, they ache and bother me. A byproduct of my lifestyle, my mind is also often over-taxed: thoughts whirling between uncompleted tasks, family concerns, and my full calendar. A yoga practice that allows me to focus on the bodily sensation that I feel in each pose calms and soothes me. I love my asana practice, but my practice intention is often directed by the clamoring needs of my stiff body and cluttered brain. It is easy for me to forget that asana is more than movement and sensation awareness for physical and mental benefit. Underlying every yoga practice are ethics that help transform the asana from exercise to a spiritual practice, a practice with the power to heal, to bring into union body, mind, and spirit. (more…)