You may think of yoga as a series of stretches and movements to improve your physical condition, but there is so much more to this ancient practice. Different styles and approaches to yoga can help you mentally and spiritually, as well as physically.
However, to get the most out of these disciplines, it’s best to understand the 10 principles of yoga, as these can help form the foundation of holistic and transformative yoga practice.
Allow there is no definitive set of principles, there are some guidelines that help practitioners cultivate a deeper understanding of themselves and the world around them.
These principles are based on the fundamental teachings of yoga philosophy and encompass a wide range of practices, including physical postures, breathing techniques, meditation, and self-reflection.
They are designed to help us connect with our inner selves and find balance and harmony in all aspects of our lives.
While the specific 10 principles of yoga may vary depending on the tradition or style of yoga being practiced, there are some common themes that are found across most forms of the practice.
These include principles such as non-violence, truthfulness, self-discipline, and compassion, which are essential for creating a safe and supportive environment for practice.
Join us as we guide you through the 10 principles of yoga. By following these principles, you can deepen your connection to the practice of yoga and unlock its full transformative potential.
Yoga Sutras Of Patanjali
At the basis of yoga are the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. The initial phase of the yogic path involves cultivating positive ethical qualities, known as the ten yoga principles.
These principles are crucial for achieving inner peace during meditation, as they provide a foundation of positive qualities that can counteract the mayhem and chaos so common in the external world.
The next stage of the yogic path is focused on meditation practice. Thus, it can be said that the essence of yoga lies in the combination of meditation and positive thinking.
Let’s take a look at the 10 principles of yoga according to the Yoga Sutra of Patanjali.
1. Non Violence (Ahimsa)
This first principle is simple – be peaceful, be meek, and do not kill any other beings. In essence, this first ethical principle is not to cause harm to other living things.
2. Truthfulness (Satya)
This is the principle of being truthful. It essentially means you must be honest with those around you and with yourself. Do not lie out of convenience. However, a lie is justified in certain circumstances, such as lying to save the life of someone.
“A Yogi is silent in doubt.” If you live in the truth consistently, you will be trusted by your fellow man.
3. Righteousness (Asteya)
Third is the principle of not cheating or stealing. A true yogi lives an honest life. They will not look for advantages through unlawful or dishonest means, but always look for fair trade.
4. Wisdom (Brahmacharia)
A yogi should live in the light/in God (Brahman). Living with a spiritual focus can bring inner peace. By following this principle, you will not “serve the money (outer luck)”. Instead, you will serve your inner happiness through enlightenment.
Follow this principle to be centered in your inner peace and happiness.
5. Simplicity (Aparigraha)
Simplicity means practicing moderation in your external indulgences and consumption. To be truly spiritual, you should live with an outward modesty but be inwardly rich.
Yogis use their energy to be peaceful. Their energy turns inward rather than using it on outward actions. This cleanses the body from inside. Eventually, a yogi will live in the light permanently.
6. Worship Of The Spiritual Goal (Ishvara-Pranidhana)
It is important that we remind ourselves about our spiritual goals on occasions. This will help us not lose sight of our spiritual path.
To achieve this, yogis can worship an image, such as Shiva, a Goddess, or Patanjali. A yogi can also speak a prayer or mantra, as well as bow before a statue, like Jesus, Shiva, or Buddha.
7. Sacrifice The Ego (Shaucha)
Crucify your ego, and you will find a way into the light. Through cleaning and purification, a yogi will become enlightened.
To sacrifice enough can be challenging. “He who sacrifices too much braces themselves internally. Who sacrifices too little, does not solve his tentions.”
8. Self-Discipline (Tapas)
Tapas – to lead a disciplined life. Self-discipline is crucial to a yogi’s life path. Have a clear life plan and life goal, with a clear vision of practicing self-discipline.
9. Reading (Svadhyaya)
The ninth principle of yoga is to read (meditation, mantra) on a daily basis. This will help us remain on our spiritual path. It will also help us connect with the enlightened masters and cleanse our spirits. One day, svadhyaya will enable us to attain spiritual victory.
10. Contentment Santosha)
The tenth and final principle of yoga is to be satisfied with what you have. Easily said, more challenging to put into practice. But, being content with one’s self is a key to being at ease with your spiritual being on your life’s journey.
More Yoga Principles
The benefits of yoga can be far-reaching for our well-being. It helps our bodies remain flexible and mobile to help us stay healthy. To achieve this, yoga entails unifying our mind, body, and soul.
You can maintain a yoga mindset in your daily life by embodying a few yoga principles. Let’s explore some of these together below, so you can start benefiting immediately.
Connecting With Your Breath
Breath is an essential life force and a fundamental aspect of practicing yoga. It possesses the ability to relax the body, quiet the mind, enhance mood, and increase energy.
Developing conscious breathing techniques is an accessible practice that can be performed anywhere and at any time. Start by observing your breath, its characteristics, temperature, and sensations as you inhale and exhale.
Incorporate deep belly breathing throughout your day and during yoga practice to experience the calming effects of diaphragmatic breathing.
When feeling stressed or anxious, intentionally slow down your breathing by inhaling deeply into the lower abdomen and exhaling slowly.
This mindful approach will enable you to soothe your mind, be present in your body, and find a sense of calm.
Enjoy A Healthy Diet
To nourish your body, mind, and soul, you must choose to have a healthy diet. What you feed your body is critical to your well-being as it affects not only your physical health, but also your psyche, and mind – “A healthy body, a healthy mind.”
A nourishing, healthy diet is essential for optimal spiritual awareness and body health. It can help us find inner clarity, in turn, helping us more efficiently when performing daily tasks.
A balanced diet should include all the nutrients you require, including minerals, vitamins, carbohydrates, fats, and protein. A yogi’s lifestyle should enjoy pure food that is natural and simple, such as seasonal, organic foods.
Foods containing saturated fats should be avoided, as well as those that cause indigestion, and stimulate you. Remember, we eat to live and do not live to eat.
Plan your meals ahead using a calendar or journal. You can also prepare your meals to ensure you stick to your diet. This will also reduce stress as you try to eat healthier foods.
By practicing mindfulness daily, we can become more aware of our physical presence and our thoughts. Many of us have busy lives where we pay little attention to what is happening presently. This means we miss out on precious, important life moments.
Yoga can help us be present by practicing awareness and mindfulness. Embody this into your everyday life and our existence can be profoundly changed.
Practice mindfulness through meditation, as well as daily rituals, such as walking, eating, and showering. Throughout your day, take note of surrounding sounds, aromas, textures, and flavors. Feel your surroundings.
Try to meditate for around 15 minutes before or after practicing yoga to invite mindfulness into your daily routine more easily.
Each day will have its good and bad moments, but savor each moment and allow the world to come alive around you.
Be Loving And Kind
Every day will come with its fair share of conflicts, frustration, and challenges. Many of these will be with other people. Instead of feeling hatred or anger, try to adopt a positive mindset towards your fellow human beings, with an attitude of forgiveness and love.
Rather than allowing your actions to come from a dark place, let them come from a place of compassion and love.
Shifting your approach to being kind and loving can be challenging in some situations, but leading a life with love, for ourselves and for others, can help us move forward in our spiritual path with the yoga philosophy.
Whilst there are no definitive principles of yoga, because of different yoga traditions and lineages, we have outlined ethics and guidelines as set out by the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali above to help you live an enlightened, spiritual, and peaceful life.