It is really unfortunate that in today’s times the meaning of yoga has shrinked to mere stretching and flexing of body. Indeed, the asanas are a crucial and pivotal part of yoga practice. But yoga is much more than the performance of physical feat. It is a way of life. Following a yogic way of life is a guaranteed way to attain peace of mind, happiness and contentment in life. Yoga is based upon the principles of ‘yama’ and ‘niyama’.
Under the concept of yama or moral discipline lie the 5 basic precepts of ahimsa (non-violence, includes adherence to a vegetarian diet), satya (truth), aparigraha (non-possessiveness), asteya (non-stealing) and brahmacharya (continence/moderation). On the other hand the principle of ‘niyama’ comprises the practice of saucha (purity, cleanliness), santosha (contentment), tapas (austerity), svadhyaya (study of scriptures), isvarapranidhana (surrender to the divine).
The practice of yama and niyama helps control the mind, emotions and passions. It helps in keeping them in a state of harmony and balance. It is very important to control your senses and practice moderation in everything. This helps maintain balance within the body keeping diseases and unhappiness at bay. Moreover, you should focus on eating ‘sattvic’ vegetarian meals in appropriate quantities. Never eat when you are not hungry and do not eat for pleasure or for satisfying your taste buds.
Always focus and concentrate on the food that you are eating and remember that you are eating for the nourishment of your body and mind. Meditation is another important aspect of yoga. Meditation helps in quelling the forever ruffled mind. There are many methods of meditation. Some meditation practices rely on focusing the mind on the process and act of breathing. There are others that depend upon focusing the mind on a particular mantra.
But the best meditation is one where you learn to identify yourself as the soul and not merely as body or mind. In this kind of meditation you see bright light within yourself which spreads out to encompass everything. You spread love everywhere including within your own ailing body and mind. You can easily read more about this meditation technique online. According to the philosophy of yoga one would give his or her best to every task at hand.
No work is big or small. Do whatever you are suppose to do with full focus of mind and body. Do not perform any task half-heartedly. This is called ‘karma’ yoga. It also implies detachment from result. Most of the time we are so attached to the outcome that we fail to give our best to the task at hand. When we give up our attachment to result and simply do our task, it takes us closer to the universal life force.
Another very important thing that yoga teaches is the practice of unconditional love without attachment to any object or person. This state is most difficult to attain but definitely not impossible. When we are attached to any object or person, it brings forth suffering in one form or another. But when we only have love to give and receive unconditionally it begets happiness.