Whether you’ve been practicing your whole life or are brand new to yoga, chances are you’re going to come across a tenet in yoga philosophy that makes you think, roots deep in your brain, and which you find yourself thinking of often. Yoga isn’t merely a physical exercise—it’s a code of ethics for living, for how to treat others, and for how to honor our bodies and ourselves. Philosophy that can be considered in keeping with traditional yogic principles isn’t, however, reserved for the ancient texts.
We reached out to our Founding Circle Members to glean some of the wisdom they’ve collected over the years. Think of this as your “code for living cheat sheet,” and feel free to add additional ideas in the comments below! Want to join our Founding Circle and contribute more deeply? We’d love to welcome you to what we’re building, together. Click here for more information.
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Yoga Sutra 1.4: If the mind has a pleasant attitude toward the object, it experiences pleasure, if the mind has an unpleasant attitude toward an object, it experiences pain. The seer conforms to the modifications of the mind.. This nugget of wisdom has been said in many ways. “It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” Henry David Thoreau. Both Thoreau and Emerson studied the Bhagavad Gita and were influenced by its nuggets of wisdom. The Yoga Sutras offer a life philosophy that holds the keys to a life of joy. Zig Zigglar said, “Your attitude determines your altitude.” – Lisa Faremouth Weber
From Albus Dumbledore, in the Harry Potter series: “To the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure.” – Lisette Cheresson
Sutra 4.26: Then the mind is inclined towards the highest discrimination, and gravitates towards absolute liberation between seer and seen. I work in a correctional facility I think the sums of the experience of working with folks who are incarcerated. I speak that this sutra also speaks to how we have created prisons for ourselves. When we live the practice consistently and with intention we can no longer run from the idea that unless you are free, I am also not free. Until we work to do the inner work of seeing ourselves, we cannot truly see anyone else, and we won’t find liberation. This sutra reminds me of the Audre Lorde quote “I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own. And I am not free as long as one person of Color remains chained. Nor is anyone of you. – Oneika Mays
If you are in a yoga posture and you have the ability to flow with the energetic quality of one of the elements or animals then you can understand its purpose. The gaol is to animate the power of our primal spirit that resides in each us and to grow ourselves back to our natural state of spontaneity, playfullness, and fluidity in motion. – Paulie Zink
Talk less. Smile more. Yes, it’s from Hamilton. You can never go wrong being the ever-contented witness. – Andrea Fiondo
Pratipaksa bhavana: when disturbed by negative thoughts, opposite thoughts should be thought of. This is important to me because it has taught me to hold space for good AND bad, and not be overwhelmed by either—enhancing deep personal peace and equanimity in the midst of some very challenging political situations. This mindfulness and ability to hold space for what can be seen as potentially contradictory emotions refines one’s equanimity and allow the true light of the soul to shine forth in one’s attitudes and actions. – Reggie Hubbard
Yoga is skill in action. Yoga means union – yoga means love. Violence ends where love begins – so when someone practices yoga – they are practicing self love. – Mandar Apte
Going with the flow sounds a lot easier than it is. Being intentionally easy-going, non-judgmental and non-attached requires self-awareness and self-acceptance. It involves letting go of fear and learning to trust Life. I have had to learn this the hard way in life. It’s probably the best way to learn something and it’s very humbling. – Desiree Rumbaugh
Yoga now is by necessity a tantric endeavor. It is the age of paradox and tantra posits the the most challenging social and moral conditions represent an opportunity for profound transformation. Tantra tells us that desperate times call for desperate measures. To paraphrase a quote attributed to Shiva: in the Kali Yug, without the “Kula” teachings (Kundalini Tantra), one is simply spinning one’s wheels. – Ravi Singh
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