Yoga Times September 2015

Yoga Times September 2015.



A new term is beginning once again and I have spent some time reflecting on how the practices of Yoga can be applied in our daily lives as valuable tools that may be used not just for repairing and fixing a multitude of physical aches and pains but for tweaking and finely tuning the body/mind to function and perform in the best way possible.

As a toolbox it is fairly extensive, but whilst we may think that we already use most of these tools at first glance, we may be surprised at just how extensively these concepts challenge our thinking.

For example the yamas and niyamas may well seem familiar and could be compared to religious ethical beliefs, but when we view them in terms of open and honest self-development they will need to be looked at from a completely different perspective.

We have already seen how Santosha (contentment), when applied in Yoga class, offers us the choice of where and how we focus our attention as we carry out our asana practice. We observed how a practice can be challenging, arduous, stressful, competitive, controlling, boring, or alternatively, stimulating, interesting, animating, energising, vital, all dependant on how we choose to focus our minds.

Mindfulness is always prevalent in every aspect of our practice but the challenges offered by the yamas and niyamas give us something more. 

A point of reference that awakens us to the involuntary habits that control our thinking and reactions and the potential to consciously change.



The Tool Box


The tools of Yoga are contained within the Yoga Sutras of classical Yoga, also known as the Eight Limbs of Yoga.

This is a path towards self-realization and eventually, Enlightenment.

The eight limbs are as follows:

1 Yama – The practice of ethical principles

2 Niyama- The practice of personal disciplines

3 Asana- The practice of physical postures

4 Pranayama- The practice of breath awareness and control

5 Pratyahara-The practice of withdrawal from sensory perception

6 Dharana-The practice of focussed attention/meditation

7 Dhyana-The prolonged practice of attention/ meditation

8 Samadhi- Self Realization/ enlightenment.



When planning the term I attempt to include at least one of the Yamas or Niyamas as a theme on which we base our class activities.




Yama is the first limb and contains five practices that offer an ethical guide to living life.

Ahimsa-Non Violence


Asteya- Non Stealing

Brahmacharya- appropriate channelling of sexual energy

Aparigraha- Greedlessness


Niyama is the second limb and contains five observances concerned with personal discipline.

Saucha- Purity

Santosha- Contentment

Tapas- Self Discipline

Swadhyaya- Self Study






This term I have selected a challenging observance for our theme. It is open to many interpretations but should not be limited to its literal interpretation. Remember these words are translated from Sanskrit which is more open to interpretation.



Asteya /Non stealing


How might we interpret this in the context of Yoga?

Religious values have always implied that non-stealing is simply not taking anything that doesn’t belong to you.

But we never question what belongs to us in any depth.

Also if we apply Asteya to our own personal practice it must surely invite us to investigate how we perceive ourselves.

How might we steal from ourselves?

What might we steal from ourselves?

It could be argued that the only things that really belong to us are the things we are born with.

Life itself only belongs to us as long as we live.

We share this Earth; we share our bodies with a microcosm of tiny organisms.

Everything belongs to a collective Whole.

The only way we steal is when we loose sight of the truth and start to see ourselves as separate from the Whole.

Valuing one part of the body above another part and selecting practices that only stimulate that function will eventually lead to fragmentation and possible degeneration.

So perhaps Asteya might mean sharing the nurturing amongst all parts/ Being respectful of the body/ Being Kind/ Compassionate/ Giving and Taking so that a balance exists.

Seeing things as indivisible is perhaps the key to making sense of Asteya?

Every cell is interconnected.

If we see ourselves as part of a collective Whole, then caring for our bodies/ our minds / can have a positive contribution to the Whole.

Whatever we do for individual parts will influence the Whole.

The microcosm contained within the macrocosm is the image that comes to mind.

Whatever changes we make in one part will influence the Whole.

I hope that you will contribute your ideas to this theme as the term progresses.

Remember many minds coming together will enrich our class and open our minds.


Published by liz on Thursday, 10 September 2015, last updated on Sunday, 3 January 2016 at 3:51PM
Categories: yoga times archive

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