While moderating last week’s panel discussion on the Yama and Niyama, I was struck by how much attention goes into trying to adhere to these foundational ethical and moral principles of yoga.
Sure, after over a dozen years of daily yoga practice I no longer exhibit the loss of temper and control I did as an over-stressed executive.
I don’t throw phones anymore, or have a yearly weight gain/loss yo-yo of 40 lbs, or exaggerate the potential financial results of my company to over eager investment bankers but I still feel anger when someone blocks my way out of a subway door, I still can’t kick my bread addiction and while telling a tale I might increase the size of a fish I caught from 6 inches to 2 feet.
My feelings of anger, desire and fear of loss are all softer but they still exist. And, it takes a consistency of work to harness these powerful emotions.
Maybe that’s why I am so suspicious of emails and offers that suggest I can transcend life’s difficulties by simply manifesting a “better self.” Or just concentrate and wish hard enough and my dreams will come true. Or believe there is a spirit, angel or god looking out for me. Or that there is a powerful juice cleanse that will propel my body into shedding all its unwanted weight.
It’s sure easier to believe that you are not in control of your own “story.” That your path is part of some grand plan or design.
Studying the Yamas and Niyamas reminds us that we are very much in control of our fates and that like everything else our path towards transcendence is bound in consistent and pure practice with a faith in our ability to walk, not run, towards a clearer more luminous path.