It’s been planes, trains and automobiles for me but I’ve still managed to practice my yoga daily. A disciplined daily yoga practice is the goal of any motivated yoga practitioner but it doesn’t always come easily. Conversely, practicing yoga on a regular basis helps you to have more self- discipline.
So what can you do to tap into yoga’s deep, rich philosophy that embraces an entire way of viewing and responding to the world and life? Tapas – or self discipline is the third niyama – which literally means positive duties or observances. It should come as no surprise that practicing yoga on a regular basis helps you to have more tapas or self- discipline.
By coming to class, focusing on your breathing and becoming aware of your internal dialogue, you start tuning-in to your body and the importance of keeping it healthy and strong. By slowing down the chatter in your mind, you begin tapping into your deeper self and letting go of your unhealthy thoughts and belief systems that hinder your emotional and/or spiritual growth.
When thinking of self discipline, the image that pops into many people’s heads is one of struggle or a battle against desires – e.g. if I become a vegetarian I cannot enjoy the taste of hamburgers anymore; or, if I wake up 30 minutes earlier each day I can no longer enjoy sleeping in. If we adopt the yogic thinking that self-discipline is positive, we can see it as a vehicle to freedom, to having more good things in our lives, and attaining exactly what we want with less effort.
By eating the right kinds of foods I can be healthier and free from unnecessary illness, doctors’ visits and prescription drugs.Or, by waking up 30 minutes earlier each day, I can practice yoga, which will help me to more easily accomplish my professional goals.
In yoga you have the opportunity to practice inversions, splits, binds, and other poses that challenge your ability to breath freely and can be a bit frightening at first. Your self-discipline strengthens every time you practice staying on your mat — both physically and mentally — in these uncomfortable poses, fully engaging the breath, moving harmoniously with the internal dialogue, and committing 100% the pose. If you practice yoga this way enough – self discipline becomes a part of your character and travels with you wherever you go.
A daily, disciplined yoga practice translates to daily life. When you’re in a bind at work you you will suddenly remember to focus your gaze, slow down the breath, silence the chatter and find the balance between effort and ease. Do your practice, and all is coming — including the necessary self discipline to practice yoga each day!
For further guidance see How to Start Yoga and get your free guide to design a home yoga practice here!