When you are doing asanas on the mat, or even when you do pranayama or meditation you are building your character. Maybe unknowingly. You think you form your body, and that is so true: our bodies become much younger, more beautiful with more muscles and less fat when we practice yoga, but this is because we create inner beauty and strength which is increased by living the disciplined yoga lifestyle. We have to become love to be able to merge with the higher energy of love. An energy rule: only particles of the same merge.
This merging process is called moksha and is the goal of every yoga practice. Besides yoga on the mat, you have to live a conscious life, be loving, live norms and values, be self reflective and eat healthy. Sattvic food is the most important part of becoming light from the inside and this has a direct influence on your thoughts: with control over our inner world, we get control over our outer world. That is how energy works.
Sattvic living also means that you live in balance with nature and not spill to much of the energy. On the front picture you see that I walk every day very disciplined in nature and thank nature, no matter how cold it is, if it’s raining or snowing; I go out and practice meditative walking. Yoga is not just asanas on the mat, it is part of your way of living and being grateful to the higher energy.
To have controle over our inner world, which is beautifully described in the Bhagavad Gita, we need to have control over thoughts and senses: that is where we need to build our character for. With every asana, every breathing exercise, every meditation, we come closer to the state of samadhi: in between thoughts. Only there the connection with the higher lies. In nothingness. In the now. To get there, we need complete control of what’s inside of us.
Before I spoke about the process of becoming light and love with Jnana, Karma and Bhakti Yoga. This is very important to become self reflective: with knowledge of the self, you can break with old patterns and negative thinking, so that this dark energy disappears and makes place for your soul energy of love to fill the gap. You become more loving, and stronger by being vulnerably reflective. Finally you recognise love everywhere, which leads to an urge to serve the higher goal of bringing love. Next to these three parts of yoga, there is a fourth and is called Raja Yoga.
Raja Yoga includes the 8 limbs or sutras of yoga which lead to a very disciplined yoga lifestyle. Myself, I live this lifestyle of brahmacharya (a celibate life completely focussed on merging with the divine) since almost 8 years now and it is self liberating. This yoga lifestyle brings awareness, consciousness, love, bliss, inner freedom and happiness into your life, but it also builds up character, inner strength, patience and peace. The whole picture leads to complete control over thoughts and senses, which brings you on the right path to moksha.
Living the 8 limbs of yoga is hard in the beginning, you need a lot of discipline, but after a while it becomes a normal lifestyle and you cannot think of something else anymore. It is the forgotten goal of every living being, it feels like coming home to your real self and it is only possible with an stress-free life, focussed on divinity.
The eight limbs or sutra’s of yoga:
- Yama: moral living with: ahimsa (non-violence or non-harming), sathya (truthfulness), asteya (non-stealing), bramacharya (sexual restraint), and aparigraha (non-possessiveness)
- Niyama: personal behavior with saucha (purity), santosha (contentment), tapas (discipline or austerity), svadhyaya (spiritual study, introspection and self reflection), Ishvara Pranidhana (constant devotion to God)
- Asana: yoga postures for disciplined meditation
- Pranayama: breathing techniques to control prana or vital life force
- Pratyahara: withdrawal of the senses
- Dharana: complete concentration and focus on the universal dharma
- Dhyana: deep meditation.
- Samadhi: in between thoughts to merge with the divine