Yoga's Guide For Living Sober
Yoga's Guide For Living Sober: The Yamas and The Niyamas
The Yamas and the Niyamas, the first steps on Patangali's Eight Fold Path of Yoga, are guidelines to living a meaningful and purposeful life. When combined with the step work of recovery, these ethical practices can enhance emotional and spiritual healing to create a greater sense of well-being.
The Yamas deal with integrity and how we treat ourselves and others. From the yoga concept of "we all are connected," our behavior and intentions affect everything around us. When we are out of integrity, we forfeit the gift of personal fulfillment and continue to suffer.
The philosophies of yoga mirror the principles of honesty, willingness for inquiry and service to others which are crucial to creating peace of mind and healing in recovery. The path of yoga is a journey from the thoughts in our head to the feelings in our heart through compassionate self- love. It is the way to know and accept ourselves as we are.
We begin with kindness. The first Yama is Ahimsa which translates to "non-harming." It is living with gentleness in actions, thoughts and words. The practice is compassion, love, understanding, patience, self-love and worthiness. It is learning to be vigilant in our observation of how our thoughts and intentions not only affect those around us, but how we affect our own sense of self-worth.
In recovery, stopping the activity or behavior that debilitates us is the first step of non-harming. Treating ourselves and others with care and respect is a continuation of that practice.
Yoga and meditation lessen the harmful effects of stress on the body through the connection of breathe with movement. By practicing Ahimsa, we become aware of the habit of negative selftalk resulting in a positive change and increased self-acceptance. We will never speak to anyone more than we speak to ourselves in our head, so being kind becomes a back and forth dance from noticing how we treat those around us back into our thoughts about how we treat ourselves.
Ahimsa also reminds us of how we must treat the Earth, animals, other cultures, our children, our parents, and our community It is treating with care. It is The Golden Rule. How do we want to show up for others and how do we want to be treated? How do we want to feel at the end of the day? Practicing Ahimsa reminds us to be mindful in our relationships, act with kindness and cherish the life affirming aspects of ourselves.
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