Yoga As a Key Pathway to Spiritual Growth – The 10 Principles

Welcome to the V Yoga Health Blog!

We will be sharing our insights into all things relating to your health, but with a special emphasis on how your health and spiritual well being can be enhanced through mindfulness in your daily life, and conscious commitment to your yoga practice both on the mat and in “the real world”.

Yoga is not “just” a series of asanas, although if that were the complete extent of your practice, it’s would still a valuable undertaking.

Ultimately, however, a perception of yoga as a series of stretches with breathing prompts, without a deeper understanding and appreciation of the wisdom and insight of the yogic tradition, is wholly incomplete.

We’re interested in helping you unlock your full potential, and that takes an approach that views yoga as both a physical and spiritual journey.
To help you fully appreciate the depth and power of yoga to transform your life, we will start with the 10 principles of Yoga, embodied in the Yoga Sustras of Patanjali, a classical yoga text.

While there may be some scholarly debate as to Pantanjali’s exact identity (a discussion prompted by the various sages that have written under that name through the centuries), there is no question that the 10 Principles outlined in the Pātañjalayogaśāstra (The Treatise on Yoga according to Patañjali) are crucial in a holistic approach to life.

In the Yoga Sutras, compiled sometime around 400 CE from centuries of yogic tradition and thought, Pantanjali expanded on the development of positive ethical qualities (the ten yoga principles). Without conscious intent and positive thinking, the chaos of the outside world will intrude into the pursuit of inner peace.

Thus the 10 Principles provide the ethical foundation for a deep and enlightening yoga practice:

1) Non-violence (ahimsa):  Cause no harm to other beings. Be meek. Be peaceful.
2) Truthfulness (satya): Live in the truth by being honest with yourself and others. That includes those little white lies we often tell. In Pantanjali’s text a lie is permissible only in well justified situations, for example, if you save with a lie the life of another human being. Those who consistently live in the truth will radiate truth.
3) Righteousness (asteya): Not stealing or cheating. A Yogi is in professional life is honest. A yogi does not seek dishonest gain and cares about fairness.
4) Wisdom (brahmacharia): Live life through spiritual focus (in the light/in God). A yoga practitioner does not serve money (outer appearances) but instead nurtures and grows inner happiness.  Your practice outside the studio should be centered in finding and expanding your peace.
5) Simplicity (aparigraha): Be moderate in external enjoyment and consumption. A spiritual person lives modestly outwardly and inwardly rich. A Yogi uses his energy not in outer actions, but by turning focus inward, thus achieving a peace that is often ravaged by a stressful and materialistic world.
6) Worship of the spiritual goal (ishvara-pranidhana): It is necessary that we focus on our spiritual goal often. However we choose to worship, whatever our conception of God and our place in the spiritual world, we must pursue our spiritual growth with the same intent as our physical and financial goals.
7) Sacrifice the ego (shaucha): Purification / cleaning. The way into the light passes through the crucifixion of the ego. Without the repression of the ego there can be no enlightenment.
8) Self-discipline (tapas): A clear goal, a clear life plan and a clear way of practicing. Tapas means to lead a disciplined life.
9) Reading (svadhyaya); Can be construed as reflection and the pursuit of knowledge and understanding. It includes reading philosophy and other edifying texts,  but also using meditation and breathing exercises to sustain our spiritual awakening.
10) Contentment (santosha): this principle means finding satisfaction with what one has. Greed and envy undermine our ability to live a life that is positive and balanced.

We will examine these principles, and what they mean to your practice and your life in greater detail in the months ahead. Suffice it to say, understanding and practicing these principles are a rewarding and life transforming endeavor. We are happy you are interested in making the journey with us.