Well, you know you're in for a treat when a dosha discussion arises. The doshas are a cool way of describing our physical and mental constitution. Even though we're all very unique and completely different in our many and complex ways, the doshas invites us to consider our common attributes and qualities.
The doshas originate in the science of Ayurveda, the world's oldest holistic healing system. There are 3 doshas derived from the 5 elements that make up the Universe and everything in it:
Ether, Air, Fire, Water and Earth
The elements of Nature combine to give us the 3 doshas as follows:
Ether + Air = Vata dosha
Fire + Water = Pitta dosha
Water + Earth = Kapha dosha
You can easily go online to take a dosha quiz to find out what your constitutional makeup is. My favourite resource for all things Ayurveda is The Ayurveda Institute. You can take the Dosha Quiz on their site for h(om)e work.
So, what does it mean to be Vata or Pitta or Kapha... and why should we care? Good questions! Like all things yoga, the more you know about yourself, the better you are at making informed choices that support your health and well-being.
Figure out your Dosha and you'll have a better understanding of who you are in the World.
Put your hand up if you know what Karma means? Most of us associate the word Karma with two other words: good & bad. Sounds familiar? When actually, karma only really means action. That's a pretty common concept, that our actions are either good or bad, tainted by their outcome: positive outcome = good Karma... negative, bad.
I'd like to offer a different perspective on Karma and add a piece of behind the scenes info to adjust our understanding of the Universe. This was a very significant lesson for me to learn and I look towards this model of reality on a regular basis to make sense of my life and the World around me.
So, Karma. Is it good? Is it bad? Think about this for fun: you do well in school, you go to university, get a degree in English Literature & Language, get an office job (which you hate, BTW), and then you end up teaching Yoga for a living... is that bad karma? Of course not. It's chance. It's Luck... it's what we call Lila.
Karma is all action. And there's more to Life than action. There's also the randomness of the Universe, this idea that anything is actually possible... and sometimes the least likely outcome is what the Universe offers us. I never thought in a million years that I'd be a yoga teacher. Teacher, maybe, but embarking on my university studies, I thought maybe I'd write or teach or play Scrabble with my mom for the rest of my life. But never yoga. It wasn't a possibility... or was it?
So what's the deal with Luck? In Yogaland, it's called Lila and it refers to chance, randomness, playfullness. It's the opposite of lining your ducks up in a row and expecting them to quack. It's the unexpected possibilities. It's the ducks barking instead.
Oddly enough, you're probably familiar with the idea of good & bad luck. Similar to Karma, Lila is neither good nor bad. The Universe is seen as completely indifferent to the notion of goodness or otherwise. The Universe simply operates under the guise of potential. We choose to label the outcome, once again, not the possibility itself.
So, in a nutshell, you can do all the right things and still end up in a totally different circumstance than the desired outcome. That's Karma & Lila.
Think of a time when you put in the effort but didn't get the result. How did that feel? What did you learn about yourself? About the Universe? Was it lucky or unlucky?
Let's start with the basics:
The first steps on the traditional path to creating a yogic lifestyle, are a set of 10 principals that create moral guidelines to living a good life. You could literally spend the rest of your life working on anyone of the following concepts... or you could dedicate a day or a week to any of them on a regular basis and see how they impact your being.
The first 5 are called the Yamas. They refer to set of social ethical rules for right living. The Yamas are guidelines to achieve moral integrity and harmony in relationships with others. They are:
Non-harming, non-maliciousness, non-violence, loving kindness to self & others, compassion, kindness, mercy.
Truthfulness, being genuine and authentic, having integrity, honesty, being honourable, not lying, not concealing the truth, neither downplaying or exaggerating.
Non-stealing, not taking what is not yours - money, goods or credit; not robbing people of their own experiences and freedom; non-desire for another's possessions, qualities or status.
Moderation. Less is more. Relating to others with unconditional love and integrity, without selfishness or manipulation.
Non-attachment, greedlessness, non-grasping, non-receiving, non-possessiveness, voluntary simplicity, non-covetousness.
The next 5 moral restraints are the Niyamas. They exist to create harmony with Life and the Universe on the whole. The Niyamas deal with our way of being, how we present ourselves, our speech, thoughts and actions. The are:
Purity, cleanliness, orderliness, precision, clariy, balance; internal & external purification.
Contentment, equanimity, peace, tranquility acceptanceof the way things are.
Dedication, commitment, heat, self-discipline, willpower, austerity, patience.
Self-study, self-inquiry, mindfulness.
Belief in something bigger than yourself (the Universe, Nature, God), surrender to the Universe, open-hardheartedness, love, devotion.
Together, the Yamas & the Niyamas provide guiding principles to help establish an ethical & spiritual framework for asana practice. They are about setting and maintaining an intention to remember and to honour the higher purpose of practice.
Choose an intention for your day or for your practice that aligns with one of the 5 Yamas or 5 Niyamas. Do this regularly. Go through all 10, slowly. Let me know how they impact your practice... on & off you mat.
We all know there's more to Yoga than the poses. But how much more? And what more? And where do we get it? Do we really need more? Why?