Yoga therapy in practice
Yoga gives us control of ourselves and allows us to look at both ourselves and the universe around us in a more fulfilling way - it teaches us to be present, to quiet our minds and to be happy with who we are.
The chances are you may sometimes think about who you are and where you are in life, then accepting current realities as best you can, you try to move ahead towards your ideal. Your Yoga practice can undoubtedly help you on this journey. Dedicated to creating union between body, mind and spirit, the objective of Yoga is to assist in fostering an awareness of ourselves as individual beings intimately connected to the whole of creation.
The beginnings of Yoga therapy
In the period 400BCE, the great sage Patanjali offered a series of writings that suggest not just asana and meditation, but also attitudes and behaviours, to help you chart your own course to contentment. At first glance Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, written in Sanskrit, may seem esoteric or impenetrable but they are worth closer inspection and contain valuable advice for daily living. Including 196 sutras (the simplest meaning of ‘sutra’ being thread) the Sutras are based around eight basic principles:
- Yamas - Moral discipline
- Niyamas - Self restraint
- Asanas - Posture
- Pranayama - Breath control
- Pratyahara - Control of the senses
- Dharana - Concentration
- Dyhana - Meditation
- Samadhi - Union with the Divine
If you have practiced Yoga previously you may be familiar with asana, pranayama and meditation but may not know much about the first steps of Yamas and Niyamas. They are core values which provide a recipe for living in the world with greater ease. Yoga is not a religion however and there are no thoughts of heaven and hell. As Stephen Cope, a senior Kripalu teacher and author of The Wisdom of Yoga has said ‘ Yamas are really about restraining behaviours that are motivated by grasping, aversion, hatred and delusion; niyamas are designed to create well-being for ourselves and others…It’s all about avoiding behaviours that produce suffering and difficulty, and embracing those that lead to states of happiness.’
Undisturbed calmness of the mind is attained by cultivating friendliness towards the happy, compassion for the unhappy, delight in the virtuous and indifference toward the wicked.