In today’s fast-paced and stressful world, more and more people are turning to yoga as a way to find inner connection, balance, and wellness. While yoga is generally thought of as simply a physical practice, it is actually a holistic approach to wellness (see previous blog post). The benefits of yoga encompasses not just the body, but also the mind and spirit. At the heart of this approach is the ancient philosophy of yoga, which offers a wealth of wisdom and guidance to help negotiate modern living.
Yoga philosophy is varied and rich with roots going back into the Vedic period 3000+ years ago. One of the most known philosophies in the West is the teachings of the ancient Indian sage Patanjali, who wrote the Yoga Sutras. The Yoga Sutras provide a comprehensive guide to the practice and philosophy of classical yoga and are taught in most yoga teacher training. These short aphorisms outline the eight limbs of yoga and the principles of ‘right living’.
One of the foundational principles of this yoga philosophy is the concept of “ahimsa”, or non-violence. Ahimsa is about cultivating a sense of compassion and kindness towards all living beings, including ourselves. This principle reminds us to approach our yoga practice with a sense of gentleness and acceptance, rather than pushing ourselves too hard or judging ourselves harshly.
Another key principle of Patanjalis Yoga Sutras is “santosha”, or contentment. Santosha is about finding happiness and satisfaction in the present moment, rather than constantly striving for more. This principle reminds us to appreciate the small joys in life and to find contentment in simple things – elements that underscore the benefits of yoga.
Yoga philosophy in general also emphasises the importance of self-awareness. Through practices such as meditation and pranayama (breathwork), we can cultivate a greater sense of awareness and presence, which can help us to better manage stress and anxiety and to find greater clarity and focus – yet again highlighting the incredible benefits of yoga.
At its core, yoga philosophy is about living a life of balance and harmony, in which we strive to cultivate a sense of inner peace and wellness. By embracing the principles and practice of ahimsa, santosha, mindfulness, and self-awareness, we can tap into the transformative power of yoga and use it to enrich our lives in countless ways.
In today’s modern world, where stress, anxiety, and disconnection are all too common, yoga practices supported by yoga philosophy offer a powerful antidote. By integrating the principles of yoga philosophy into our daily lives, we can find greater balance, happiness, and wellness both as an inner experience and as an outer connection with the world around us.
In other words, both on and off the mat.