Lesson Six | Backbends
Our first five lessons were dedicated to the teachings of the Yamas. There are 5 Yamas (ahimsa, satya, asteya, brahmacharya and aparigraha) and 5 Niyamas. The 5 Yamas can be understood as the rules of Yoga. The Yamas answer the question “what does a yogi look like?”
- Whenever possible, a yogi does no harm and practices loving kindness. Ahimsa.
- A yogi practices truth in word, thoughts and deed. Satya.
- A yogi practices generosity, avoiding taking what doesn’t rightfully belong to him. Asteya.
- A yogi honors himself as a spark of the divine. Brahmacharya.
- A yogi receives reality as it comes to him, nonattached to past or future. Aparigraha.
Beginning this week, our lessons will be dedicated to the teachings of the Niyamas.
There are also 5 Niyamas, and they can be understood as the “how to’s” of Yoga. The Niyamas answer the question “how do I become a yogi?”
The first Niyama is Sauca, which means purity or cleanliness. I like to think of this teaching as imploring us to “keep it clean.” When we wonder HOW can I practice more loving kindness and do less harm? The answer is sauca keep it clean. By keeping our alignment clean in a yoga pose, we avoid doing harm and injury to our body. By keeping our words clean, we do less harm in relationships. By keeping our thoughts clean, we elevate our consciousness. By keeping our actions clean, we join the global community as carekeepers for all of humanity, doing less harm to this planet and our ecosystem.
- What are ways you are already practicing cleanliness on a daily basis? How do you“keep it clean” on and off the mat in your daily life?
- What are some ways you can dedicate more of your attention to elevating yourcleanliness in word, thought or deed?
- How does it feel when you expand your sauca/cleanliness practice? What are therewards? How does it feel to be a yogi following this practice?
The breath can be a wonderful tool for cleansing the mind of swirling thoughts and emotions. This week we’ll practice Sauca meditation by using cleansing breath. Find a comfortable seated position with nice, tall posture in your spine. Close your eyes and allow your awareness to settle on your breath, in and out through the nose. Try counting the breath at first, creating evenness between your inhales and your exhales counting up to 3 for each inhale, and again counting to 3 for each exhale, until every breath feels steady and even. If your mind strays, emotions rise up again, or your breath becomes uneven, focus on our simple counting technique to steady the breath and the mind throughout this simple 15 minute meditation.