Today I want to talk a little about the 'yoga lifestyle'. What does that mean to you? Maybe it's something you haven't even heard of before. I am definitely going to delve more into some of the topics I'm going to mention today but I want to start off simple and build up!
I started doing yoga for the very shallow reason of wanting to be able to touch my toes. I was 15, not the most athletic being on the planet (understatement of the month!) and saw some lithe, lovely person in a magazine touching their toes. They looked so pretty and perfect, and I think I believed somehow that if I could also do that I might be a touch more pretty and perfect too!
All the yoga classes I took in my teens and early twenties focused on the asanas - in fact the vast majority of any yoga class or workshop I have been on have only focused on the physical aspects of yoga; the poses, the breath and how we feel in a pose. A small minority did mention the mental side but not one I went to ever mentioned the spiritual side.
I do have to be honest here - I don't delve much into the spiritual aspects of yoga in my classes either. A lot of people either are not interested or think that spiritual means "not their religion". I talk a little about it but try to show them about the spiritual side of yoga through example - how I live.
Some people equate the spiritual side of yoga with the 'yoga lifestyle', which I don't mind if it helps them understand it better or makes it more real to them. I know some yogis would be really annoyed at this, and possibly denounce me as 'not a real yogi' but I am 100% down with people using whatever helps them to understand a concept and whatever helps them be a better version of themselves. My way is not the only right way after all!
Now...lets talk a little about what a yoga lifestyle or the spiritual aspects are. There are 8 limbs of yoga, one of which is the asanas we practice in class. The other 7 are what can be seen as the spiritual/lifestyle aspects, and some of these limbs can have several concepts associated with it.
One of these is the yamas, which is one limb of yoga made up of different concepts we can incorporate into our everyday life to make it more meaningful, ethical and purposeful. There are 5 yamas - which I will delve into deeper in other blog-posts - and which are:-Ahimsa: nonviolence
For me, practising ahimsa involves not eating meat or dairy as I prefer to extend non-violence to animals and don't agree with how they are treated in the meat and dairy industry. I also refuse to use any products involving animal testing, animal ingredients, or cruelty of any kind. For others, this might not be the case. We are, after all, individuals! Some people only see ahimsa as being towards other humans.
I also see asteya as not just the lack stealing of someone's physical belongings, but also the non-stealing of time or emotions - I refuse to waste people's time, lead them on or make promises I can't keep. Other people might take it further or not as far.
Even without the other limbs of yoga, the yamas alone count for many as a 'yoga lifestyle' or a spiritual side of yoga. Maybe you see someone who practises yoga every day as living a yoga lifestyle, or only someone who follows all 8 limbs as living the yoga lifestyle. Maybe you hadn't even heard of a yoga lifestyle, or thought it was something only hippies did!
There's no right or wrong but I would really be interested to hear what you think. Let me know commenting on here, emailing, Instagram or anywhere you can find me :)
I'm going to be talking a lot more about the yamas in the next few blog posts, before moving on to the other 7 limbs, let me know if you want me to focus on anything or you're interested in something being covered in more detail!
I'm a yoga fanatic who been practising yoga for 22 years and teaching for almost 4. I'm quite spiritual, a bit of a hippy to be honest, and love discussing theoretical aspects of yoga as well as the practical elements. You'll find articles on how yoga benefits my life on both a physical, mental and emotional level, as well as how it can help you - as well as some non-yoga related articles just to keep you on your toes!