5 Secrets of Yoga

These five secrets of yoga are hidden for many, but once accessed their power is transformational.

1. Asana has very little to do with it. Patanjali is known as the guy who sat down and recorded the yoga sutras—an important text containing sutras, or threads, that link together to share vital teachings of yoga. In Patanjali’s 8-limbed yoga system, asana (yoga postures) come after the five Yamas and five Niyamas. Containing teachings of non-violence, not stealing, truthfulness, sensory control and non-attachment, I sum up the Yamas this way: inner practices for liberation. The Niyamas—with their teachings of cleanliness, contentment, discipline, sacred- and self-study, and surrender—I call outer practices for liberation. In Patanjali’s sutras, these teachings come before asana. Here’s why I love this: it frees us from trying to arrange our bodies to look the way we see the most advanced asana practitioners looking. It frees us from feeling we’re not ‘advanced’ yogis if we never want to do a headstand. And it empowers us with living techniques that free us from inner and outer influences that get in the way of our connection to our strong, free, joyful essential self.

2. The definition of a yogi is one who lives a balanced life. These words are straight from one of my teachers, Swami Maheshananda Saraswati—and he’s a full-on yogi, dedicated to living it, wears the orange robes, did the 12 years in the ashram, was on the faculty at the first yoga university in India, and on and on…He has more fun in a day than anyone else I know. Throughout his non-stop worldwide travelling and teaching schedule, he is always tapping into and creating joy—whether that’s through a mid-day power nap with the help of yoga nidra, a chocolate from Purdy’s chocolates, or a spontaneous road trip.

3. Yoga doesn’t constrain your life, it frees your life. So there are eight limbs in Patanjali’s system. And branches within each of them. So they talk about recommendations for how to live and how to be. None of these practices constrain you. Ultimately, all of them are designed to free you. They’ll free you from self-doubt, from situations, people and places that make you feel like you’re wearing chains, and liberate you from thoughts that don’t strengthen who and what you really are.

4. You can dance. Since yoga is all about unity, samadhi, joy, and bliss, dancing can be your yoga. For lots of people, really, truly shaking their booty is a perfect way to free their mind, find inner focus/pratyahara, single-pointed concentration/dharana, fall into deep meditation/dhayana, and maybe, just maybe feel samadhi—absorbed in the infinite.

5. Happiness is everything. The teachings of yoga—and most other spiritual practices that I know of—are all about happiness and joy. When we strip away the shackles of our attachment to our thoughts, our objects, our ego-based outcomes, lies we tell ourselves, actions that don’t honour other people, and practice contentment and surrender we reach a deep and unique happiness. Living yoga is about living from a space of love instead of fear.  And it’s from that place that we create lives that reflect who we really are and want to be.

Much love,

Lindsey

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[Editor’s note: This article is by Lindsey Lewis, yoga teacher, life coach, and founder of www.libreliving.com.]

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Comments

  1. This was precisely the answers I’d been searching for. Amazing blog. Incredibly inspirational! Your posts are so helpful and detailed. The links you feature are also very useful too. Thanks a lot!!

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    • Marisa Guerrera says:

      Loved this post! Most people are submerged in the physical practice, but that’s only a tiny part of the essence of yoga. Thanks for the simple, clear, and honest explanation.

  2. Great posts! You’re so right about asana. I only do a little bit to settle the mind, free up the prana and prepare to sit for meditation, and that works great for me. It’s a shame so many of the western teachers/studios are focused almost entirely on asana, and some things that are called yoga are really just fitness.

    At least people are getting the benefits of asana, and many do eventually get interested in a more rounded out practice through that.

    3) is spot on too. Yoga gives us freedom from the attachment and ingorance in our own minds.

  3. Loved looking into the deeper layers of what it means to truly embrace the yoga life. Thanks for writing this :-)

  4. This is such a fantastic article. There needs to be more discussion of Yoga like this on the internet. I was just flicking through a very old copy of Baron Baptiste’s 40 Day Revolution the other night where he actually states “At it’s heart, yoga is a physical practice” – Ahhh my practice has evolved thank god. Listening to Mr Patanjali these days a bit more than Mr Baptiste… Thanks for sharing x

  5. I really enjoyed the image of the iceberg. No doubt the tradition is an endless flowing elixir. I feel that even an asana practice, when truly embraced, can be enough.

  6. I really enjoyed the image of the iceberg. No doubt the tradition is an endless flowing elixir. I feel that even an asana practice, when truly embraced, can be enough.

  7. I appreciate the acknowledgements that the practice is about living a balanced life and enjoying the liberation that results from that. It’s very truthful that it’s not all about the asanas- even some teachers in the U.S. seem to forget that it is an eight-limb path. Navigating solely along the limb that is the asanas and forgetting about the other seven is a different endeavor all together.

  8. love love love your article! Hope you don’t mind if i re-post on my website http://www.YummiYogini.com. Thank you for the beautifully written article :)

  9. Christian Rene Friborg says:

    I love how yoga increased my fitness and lowered the level of my anxiety.

  10. This article should be read by all beginning yoga practitioners. There is so much more to the practice than just the physical poses and this is a great explanation.

  11. WOW, what a powerful photo to use. It’s funny I had a whole report to do in elementary school about glaciers, this picture makes yoga so clear. I teach a very beginners class and children. So many people are full of fear and say “oh yoga is not for me I’m not flexible…..” This picture speaks the truth, thank you for sharing…
    Shane~

  12. I hope it’s alright if I provide a link to another great article, which I found to relate to this one: http://www.examiner.com/article/so-you-want-a-hard-yoga-class
    This is a nice conversation to keep going.

  13. Great article. I have to admit I did start yoga purely for the physical workout but after doing yoga for over 7 years now, it’s so much more. It’s the calming of my mind and body :) I agree that all beginners should read this article.

  14. Excellent article. I am feel sad that most of the people are not aware about the importance and advantages of yoga. I hope articles in your blog will be a eye opener for many. My sincere thanks for the post.

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