Do you love the feeling you experience while on your mat doing an asana class? Have you ever wondered why or how that feeling can disappear so quickly? For me, it can happen as soon as I hit the concrete jungle of my NYC sidewalk. A great spiritual guru once said that if you feel like part of your life is unbalanced or spinning out of control, then just examine which of the 5 points of yoga are you not following. Neglecting just one point out of the 5 points can throw your entire practice on or off your mat.
The ancient science of yoga can easily be summed up in 5 points to practice. Most of us have no problems following Point 1: Correct Exercise or Asanas. It’s the other 4 points that we tend to neglect in part or parcel. We must practice all 5 points of yoga simultaneously to reap the full benefits of a yogic lifestyle.
The 2nd point of yoga is correct breathing or Pranayama. The breath resides in our solar plexus, the battery of our body. Putting conscious action to an involuntary action like breathing is an effective way to beat stress and eliminate depression. With a properly charged battery, the body hums with strength and vitality.
Relaxation or Savasana is the 3rd point of yoga practice. Your boss may expect you to operate under stress but the body and mind only comply by taxing our systems to the fullest and causing havoc to manifest. Relaxation acts to cool the body and mind, it is our own personal AC system. A few minutes of physical, mental and spiritual relaxation erase worry, fatigue and stress more effectively than 8 hours of sleep.
Probably the most difficult to follow is correct diet or Vegetarianism, our 4th point of yoga practice. According to yogic theory, Ahimsa is non-violence in thought, word or deed and is the basis of a vegetarian diet. A Lacto-Vegetarian diet benefits a yoga practice by being easy to digest and convert to energy for our systems. Food is fuel for our bodies and you are literally what you eat. So unless you want to be a Cheeto, eat food that has the most positive effects on our body and mind, while having the least effects on our environment and other animals.
The 5th and final point of a yoga practice is positive thinking and meditation or Vedanta and Dhyana. By controlling the mind and our thought patterns, we can then begin to remove negative ideas and behaviors. Through meditation, we learn to calm the mind in any situation that may arise around us. Paraphrasing an ancient Zen poem about meditating, “Sit like a mountain, the winds may be blowing, the dark clouds swirling, lions prowling, sit steadfast and majestic like a mountain.”
So the next time you wonder “Why me” or “Why now”, just examine which of the 5 points of yoga practice have you neglected. Yoga is a life of self-discipline and that is why it is called “a practice”. Like anything in life, practice makes perfect. I can trace every positive or negative emotion back to one of the 5 points in my own practice. Having an easy 5 point roadmap to get through practice makes your journey all the more important as opposed to your destination.
Om tat sat.
Christian Shambu Lorey
Based in NYC, Christian Shambu Lorey was introduced to yoga years ago, but his practice didn’t change his life until 2007 when he committed to a daily practice. In 2010 after a 20 year career in the luxury designer fashion world of NYC, Paris and Milan, Christian Shambu earned his 200 hour teaching certification at one of the Sivananda Yoga and Vedanta Ashrams. Fusing traditions of Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga and Hatha, he teaches with a modern approach that is ideal for all levels. ChristianLorey@earthlink.net
I had the privileges of meeting Christian during his metamorphosis from Christian to Shambu at the Sivananda Ashram. This yogi, who walks the walk, has a joyful and open heart that mesmerizes everyone he meets.