You may be familiar with yoga poses, or asanas, and maybe even yoga breathing techniques, pranayama, but did you know that yoga was intended to be an entire lifestyle and way of living? And did you also know that the yoga asanas that you practice in class were not even a part of what the originator intended?

The birth of yoga originally comes from the Vedas (ancient Hindu scriptures), which dates back between 4,000 to 5,000 years. Vedic knowledge was passed down from teacher to student through perfect memorisation in the way of verses and poems. But it wasn’t until the second century B.C. that a sage named Patanjali outlined what is known today as the Eight Limbs of Yoga.

Each of the eight limbs or branches of yoga, when practiced, is designed to help the practitioner live a more disciplined life with the goal of alleviating suffering. It is important to remember that Yoga is a science, a philosophy, a spiritual and a physical practice which is practiced for self development or growth, not to be confused with religion. For the next few weeks we will take a look at those branches starting with the Yamas. Yama is social behavior, how you treat others and the world around you. These are moral principles. They tell us that our fundamental nature is to be compassionate, generous, honest and peaceful.

The first of the yamas is Ahimsa, also known as non-violence/ Compassion. Do you eat, sleep, live well? How have you been doing things and is it working well or could you adjust or fine tune some habits to live a better life? Back to basics: drink plenty of water (fatigue, joint pain, headache, indigestion..), eat well balanced meals at regular times (heart disease, cholesterol, diabetes…), do some physical and breathing exercises (anxiety, obesity, concentration, insomnia…). Avoid or moderate chemicals, sugars, electronics and anything you feel is getting in the way of you feeling healthy.

When you feel good, then you can be of better help to others. You are number one.