Being a yogi is more than just practicing yoga. It’s a lifestyle, which means taking some of the things you learn off the mat and out into the world. I’ve mentioned in a previous article about what yoga has taught me. I’ve learned to be more contentious about what I’m putting into my body. That means reading the ingredients on packaging, buying whole foods, natural, organic. Using eco friendly products to help reduce waste. Picking up trash to help the ecosystem thrive.Let’s look at how various limbs out of the eight limbs of yoga relate to being an off the mat yogi.
The first limb of yoga is yama, which is the observance of others; that is how we relate to other people as well as how we relate to the world around us. This can look like watching what how we interact with people, our actions and our reactions. Of course, this type of discipline is also guided by the Holy Spirit.
The second limb is niyama, which involves self discipline. This may look like discipline yourself to choose to eat cleaner foods. Did you know that if you eat meat from an animal that was abused, your body absorbs the trauma that’s stored in that meat? Think about it. If our bodies store our trauma, why wouldn’t we expect that of animals? Therefore, when we eat that type of meat, our bodies absorb the meat along with the trauma stored in it. It doesn’t just stop with meat, it continues with produce. The pesticides that are used on produce get into our systems. There are even pesticides that are combined with the plant seed, becoming a part of the plant itself. You can’t even tell when you buy seeds that aren’t organic that you’re not buying those modified seeds with the pesticides already combined with the plant. Do you ever wonder why so many healthy people get cancer? Choosing cleaner more organic foods has many benefits. Eating clean gives you more energy, improves cardiovascular health, can help with weight loss, can improve your mood, strengthen your immune system, can improve focus, and help you sleep better.
Pranayama is the fourth limb. It means breath. You can’t live without breathing right? Breath is life. We need to protect the environment around us. One example is by using cleaner products; another could be deciding to use more eco friendly options, such as reusable grocery bags or produce bags. This helps to reduce the waste that is in landfills. Some of which is burned. What do you think those gases do to the environment around the landfill? Another thing when it comes to pranayama are plants. Do you have any live plants in your home? Simply having living plants in your home can help you breathe better.
Sixth is dhatana, which is meditation. Meditation can be a difficult thing for many people because we live in this sensory overloaded culture. Sometimes this meditation means withdrawing from society to get out into nature; listen to the quiet waters, allowing your spirit to thaw to hear the Holy Spirit. To hear God’s voice to clear your mind for meditation. There are times where you just need to get away from everything and physically get alone with the Lord.
Taking yoga off the mat isn’t just about how you treat yourself. It‘s also be about looking at things or causes bigger than yourself. Within Christian yoga, it’s about serving Christ and furthering His kingdom. You don’t have to adopt a child from a third world country or travel there to do a mission trip. There are ways to do that in your home town or just in your own home. Maybe it’s helping the homeless, fostering a child, rescuing animals, or spreading the Gospel to those who have yet to hear the name of Jesus. How can you serve Christ? Other ideas could include becoming a part of the Meals on Wheels program in your community, offering to take care of a new mother’s child so she could get some rest, offering to go grocery shopping for an elderly neighbor, giving a card, just because, to a neighbor, or inviting them to church. The point is, how can you show Christ’s love to those around you?
There are so many ways to take yoga off the mat that, if you’re searching for how to do so, I would suggest you ask yourself the following questions. What are you passionate about? What lights you on fire? Is there something that stirs your heart? Pray and ask the Holy Spirit to guide you in moving forward to further His kingdom.