The Yoga Code – Ancient Wisdom for a Modern World
10 Universal Principles to Living with More Peace, Balance and Joy
It all began with a meltdown and what could have been perceived as a full blown nervous breakdown. It was November 2008. The air was cold, the skies were grey – and so was my spirit. Not knowing whether I wanted to live or die, I focused on my breath…knowing that the breath would keep me calm.
It was then that I decided that life as I knew it needed to change and it needed to change quickly. I could no longer go on living in the meaningless cycle of a career that was harming my health and my soul.
And so, I gave up my six figure job in advertising and traveled to India where I lived in an ashram studying yoga and meditation in the hopes of discovering my self.
What I discovered, was so much more…
Upward Dog. Downward Dog. Child’s Pose.
You’ve heard about yoga. You may have even tried a class or perhaps you’ve been practicing for a while. Whatever your experience is with yoga, there’s no denying its power to create shift and transformation. However, yoga’s transformative power goes way beyond the bending and twisting poses that we see in magazines and yoga studios. In fact, yoga has very little to do with the postures.
The Yoga Sutras is an ancient yogic text written thousands of years ago by the Indian sage Patanjali. In essence, this is the bible of yoga and is written in 196 verses, each describing how we can use the wisdom of yoga to end a life of suffering and move towards a life with more peace, balance and joy.
Out of these 196 verses, only three of them talk about the physical postures. Only three!
Yet in our body and image obsessed world it’s all we focus on, missing out on a huge percentage of what yoga truly is. The Yoga Sutras reveals 10 Universal Principles that were created to be the absolute foundation of yoga. Developed with the intention to be mastered before you ever bust a yoga move, these principles act as a blueprint or “code” for creating a beautiful and inspired life, free from drama.
Inspired by these principles, I created The Yoga Code: a step by step blueprint for designing a life that is aligned with who you truly are – free from all the masks that we are asked to wear on a daily basis.
The Yoga Code can be applied to all areas of life including parenting, relationships, health, spirituality, business/career and finances.
The 10 Universal Principles of The Yoga Code are like a GPS for your soul, so when you go off course, you have a spiritual map to gently guide you back to the main road.
Here is a very small glimpse into each principle along with their sanskrit translation and ways you can begin to immediately implement them into your life:
PRINCIPLE 1: KINDNESS & COMPASSION (Ahimsa)
Practice non-harmful actions, thoughts and words towards others and more importantly, towards ourselves. Self-love is the foundation for everything. When we are kind and compassionate towards others (always giving, always helping) yet are not demonstrating that same kindness towards our own spirit, we begin to feel depleted and eventually resentful.
How you can practice Kindness & Compassion:
Develop what I call “non-negotiable me time” for a minimum of 15 minutes every day, first thing in the morning. This can be in the form of meditation, journaling, or even just sitting in silence with your morning hot beverage and a candle. By giving to yourself before you do anything else, you send a message to your spirit that says: You’re worth it!
PRINCIPLE 2: TRUTH (Satya)
Some may say a little white lie isn’t harmful, however when we are doing it continuously it begins to add weight on to our spirit. The most harmful way we lie is when we lie to ourselves. When the person we want to be on the inside is not in alignment with the life we have created on the outside, then we create the suffering associated with not living our truth.
How you can practice Truth:
Write down 3 areas in which you feel you are not living your truth. It could be your career, relationship, friendships or even the car you drive or the food you eat. What small action can you take today to move you closer to truth in these areas?
PRINCIPLE 3: NON-STEALING (Asteya)
We steal from ourselves when we play small and don’t step into the person we know we can be. When we allow procrastination or self-doubt to keep us from moving forward with our dreams, we rob ourselves of the opportunity to shine our brightest light into the world.
How you can practice Non-Stealing:
Look back on some of the goals you have set out for yourself or perhaps you have a vision board that symbolizes the life you want. Write down the actions you need to take in order to move forward, towards those dreams.
PRINCIPLE 4 – MODERATION (Brahmacharya)
Let’s face it, we live in a world of excess. Consumerism, food, alcohol, and even exercise can be taken to the extreme. We’ll use food as an example for this purpose since we can all relate to eating too much. Whenever we pass the point of having “enough” we deplete our spiritual energy. When we learn to see the divine in everything we consume, we will naturally refrain from going overboard.
How you can practice Moderation:
Go buy your favorite food, something that you would consider a treat. Now take a moment to set the tone. Light a candle, sit down in a comfortable chair. Take a small portion, less than half of what you normally would and “make love” to it. Feel the texture, taste the flavours, chew it until it dissolves and then – stop. Repeat this the next day. Notice how you’ll become satisfied with so much less, allowing yourself to enjoy your treats more often.
PRINCIPLE 5 – NON-ATTACHMENT (Aparigraha)
We all carry attachments. Attachments to material objects, to people, to relationships, to beliefs, to our status in the community, to careers, to outcomes. Attachments are simply an avoidance pattern. When we cling to something external, we avoid the inner work that needs to be done. Attachments weigh us down. They are energetically heavy and are often the cause of exhaustion. When we let go of these attachments, we are gifted with an abundance of freedom.
How you can practice Non-Attachment:
Awareness is the first step towards letting go. Go into your closet and pick out five items that you’ve been hanging onto yet haven’t worn in years. Ask yourself: Why am I still keeping this? What is the story that I’m attached to? Will my life be affected negatively if I don’t keep them? The answer will most likely be no. Pack them up and bring them to a homeless shelter then notice how that feels. Repeat.
PRINCIPLE 6 – PURITY & SIMPLICITY (Saucha)
Everything we see, do, say and feel make up the total of our life experiences, and each of these experiences leave an impression and take up space in our body, mind, and soul. When we learn how to simplify our complicated lives, we can begin to create space within these areas, moving us from a state of contraction to a state of expansion – and this is where the magic of manifestation happens.
How you can practice Purity and Simplicity:
Surroundings – Declutter your home and create a sacred space that feeds your soul.
Mind – Meditate and take time for stillness. A disorganized inner life equals a disorganized outer life.
Body – Simplify your diet. Eat foods that are alive and feed your body with nourishment and energy. Do yoga.
Soul – Practice forgiveness.
PRINCIPLE 7 – CONTENTMENT (Santosha)
Life is a series of experiences that come to us in ebbs and flows. We tend to label these experiences as either “good” or “bad”, causing us to feel low in the bad times and then worry that the good ones will end. Learning to find joy and contentment in our lives regardless of our external circumstances will propel us into a state of calm inner peace, ending our needless suffering.
How you can practice Contentment:
Practice gratitude. When we spiral into a tornado of negativity and despair we move further away from contentment. The next time you are feeling overwhelmed or in a state of chaos, write down 10 things that you are grateful for in your life. Read this list 3 times and notice how your energy changes.
PRINCIPLE 8 – COMMITMENT (Tapas)
Translated from sanskrit, Tapas literally means heat. This principle asks us to hang in there when we feel the fire. It is through our darkest and most challenging moments that we are asked to dig deep, to gather our courage and determination so that we may take another breath. By doing so, we emerge stronger, more confident and ready to leap into the beauty of life.
How you can practice Commitment:
Take a blank sheet of paper and write down some of the most difficult experiences in your life. The moments where you believed you couldn’t take another step – but you did. What did you learn? How did you grow? Can you see the gift that was hidden deep within your struggles?
PRINCIPLE 9 – SELF-INQUIRY (Svadhyaya)
In our desire to create more meaning and purpose in our lives, we must begin with self-reflection. By committing to a path of continuous learning and spiritual growth, we become better able to see our true selves without the various masks we wear to hide our divine identity. In turn, we see others as who they truly are as well. As we heal and nurture our relationship with ourselves, we strengthen our connection with others.
How you can practice Self-Inquiry:
For one entire day, use a journal to document your reactions to people and circumstances. What triggers you in a positive way? In a negative way? Observe your thoughts, words, actions and note how it feels when you display them. At the end of the day, go through your journal and make note of anything that stands out.
PRINCIPLE 10 – SURRENDER (Ishvara Pranidhana)
Each of the previous nine principles have brought us here. We are asked to show up, do the work as best as we can, then we simply allow the Universe to take over from here. By accepting that there is a force much greater than us at work, we take some of the pressure off ourselves from having to have it all figured out.
How you can practice Surrender:
The yoga pose associated with this principle is savasana or corpse pose. Upon completing the poses, you are gifted the opportunity to surrender. If you can, attend a yoga class or practice at home and allow yourself a long, beautiful savasana. If the physical aspect of yoga isn’t your thing, then schedule time in your day to pause and do nothing. Let your day and your life integrate. Give it space to breathe so that you may have space to “be”.
By Jackie Dumaine
Coach, Speaker, Guide, Creator of the Yoga Code™