I love living a life encompassed by yoga. All forms of yoga. Restorative and Power. Eastern and Western. Sadhus and Shiva Rae. Waking up early to embrace the morning light and sit quietly. Eating more clean and unprocessed foods. Smiling often. Living a life with intention and positive affirmation.
Yoga has not only become my profession and passion, but a lifestyle choice, and I am thankful to be able to practice and share the benefits with friends, family and strangers.
My lifestyle goal is to stay nourished in body & mind. I do this through adequate sleep, a nourishing diet, positive relationships, and consistent Asana and Meditation practice. All of these lifestyle choices help me feel more balanced and remind me to reconnect with what's truly important in life: staying strong in my body and clear in my mind so I can share these profound, but very simple philosophies of Yoga. However, I am far from enlightenment and know plain and simple that I am still connected to the external world. My body & mind often find themselves on an enticing date with the senses...following the urges to impress and satisfy the cravings through sight, scent, taste, touch and hearing.
So, while I practice self-discipline, I admit, I also practice Prajnaparadha: committing crimes against wisdom. Prajnaparadha is when you follow through with an act that you know may not benefit you. Some internet appropriate examples of crimes I commit (I won't rehash some of my old, wild habits, which thankfully I have out grown) include staying up late, not stepping onto my mat for days at a time, indulging in multiple cappuccinos and buttery almond croissants. Sometimes I get frustrated and honk my horn in traffic, and even forget to bring my reusable shopping bag to the grocery store.
Some of these acts I attribute to impatience or forgetfulness, which I am constantly working to be more conscious about, so in the future I can break these negative patterns. But once I see clearly what it is I need to improve, I then try to let go of the feelings of judgment, anxiety or shame that so easily flow into my mind. I have learned throughout this process, that when you shed light on your negative tendencies, it is just as important to have a constant practice of compassion. This allows us to approach these dark areas and transform more quickly knowing we can learn to let go and forgive our imperfections.
On the other hand, I know that certain acts of Prajnaparadha bring me great pleasure. A few personal examples: coffee, chocolate, basking in the sun, and lounging in bed till late. I even admit that sometimes it just feels completely good and natural to enjoy something 'unhealthy'...a little sugar and chocolate isn't the worst thing that can happen, is it?
My answer is no, hopefully not because I love these two things, therefore I have a biased perspective...but because I think we all need our own personal definitions of health. Instead of trying to eliminate everything 'unhealthy' and maintain unrealistic goals, we should each find our own personal balance between when & what to eliminate or enjoy. Begin to tap into your internal wisdom and identify what feels right for your lifestyle. The only way to do this is to bring more awareness to certain habits or aspects of your life, notice how they affect you and then decide if the outcome is one that is small or large. Don't worry about the article stating 'gluten is the devil' or '2 hours of daily Asana is necessary'. Create your own self-discipline and goals that are accessible for your lifestyle in this very moment. Recognize that your effort to slowly change these habits will go a long way, and may eventually eliminate them. For example, savoring 1 cappuccino, not 3 or giving your body extra sleep by an hour, not 4. Offering yourself these acts of pleasure (even if they are not considered 'healthy' by some) through gratitude, without unnecessarily taking them to extremes.
Recently I read a friends piece of writing which emphasized the ability of being able to 'show your wounds'. It loved the concept and sparked this blog post. I want to remind everyone to let go of their own stereotypes or society's standards, and to surrender to these opinions (which are mainly stories we create in our minds) to reveal and be okay with our imperfections. By doing this, we allow ourselves to become more open to learning, developing and transforming. This is the true yoga. Traveling deep within towards self-realization, slowly bringing light to our darkest parts so we can then peel like an onion the layers of ourselves we no longer want, opening to the most genuine, humble and pure part of our core selves. After all, we are only human, and placed upon this path to become better beings.
So, the next time you commit an act against your better judgement, allow yourself to witness the process and evaluate the outcome with a different perspective. If it is an outcome you don't want to happen again, then make every effort to change, and then most important, forgive and move on. Let go of any and all judgement.
And if you commit an act against your better judgement, but you kind of sort of feel wonderful throughout, then let your internal guard down and enjoy it wholeheartedly.
Live life by your own rules and standards. Learn to be okay with your flaws. We are each blessed with the gift of choice and freedom...use these gifts wisely. Most important, know the only person who can bring true happiness and as a result, health, is yourself.
LAUREN LEE E-RYT 500 is passionate about living with purpose, exploring the world, and empowering others to live as their most authentic, radiant Self. Founder of Raise Your Beat, dedicated teacher and forever student on the path of yoga, she leads transformational workshops, retreats and trainings to awaken the individual and collective consciousness. Read more about her here