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I’m in Disney World right now, but as I mentioned in this post, I wanted to share with you the yamas of a yoga practice and how they can be applied to all of life’s experiences, even a weeklong trip to the Mouse House. Read on for a breakdown of the final three!
Yama #3: Asteya
“Asteya, or ‘not stealing,’ refers to the stealing that grows from believing we cannot create what we need. We steal because we misperceive the universe as lacking abundance or we think that there is not enough for everyone and that we will not receive in proportion to our giving.”
Even though you want Stitch all to yourself at the Club 626 dance party, remember to share him with the kiddies.
Chip and Dale need a lesson in asteya: It’s not very nice to steal your fellow chipmunk’s gal.
Fun fact: Stitch is WDW’s the biggest asteya offender. Watch all loose objects; Stitch WILL steal!
Yama #4: Brahmacharya
This is a tough one to grasp, so I’m posting a slightly longer explanation: “Brahmacharya reminds us that our life force is both limited and precious, and sexual activity is one of the quickest ways to deplete it…. We can teach brahmacharya by helping our students learn to use the minimum energy to achieve the maximum result. Teach them not to use small muscles to do the work of large muscles, and to bring their minds into the poses so that their bodies do not become fatigued.”
The concept of brahmacharya is sexually rooted, but, as noted above, it can also mean not letting your body loose control in an effort to enjoy something.
Ever go on a roller coaster and scream your brains out just to be silly? With all that yelling, waving, hooting, and hollering, you may lose out on the true experience of the ride, and it will all go by in a flash.
Stay in the moment and feel the experience of loosing control, while keeping your mind and senses engaged. Enjoy every second of that lift up the hill and breathe in the joy of the final descent.
Yama #5: Aparigraha
“Aparigraha means not coveting what isn’t ours. It is different from asteya, which asks us to avoid stealing that is motivated by a greed springing from a perceived lack of abundance. Aparigraha is the greed that is rooted in jealousy…. Rather than finding who we are, we look at someone else and say, ‘I want to be that.’ Aparigraha, in its essence, helps us discover our own selves so that we no longer feel the need to covet what someone else has, or be what someone else is.”
Don’t compare yourself to others, even if you think Walt Disney should have picked a lobster for his sidekick instead of a freakin’ mouse.
Remember to enjoy the entertainment at Disney World, rather than dwell on the fact that you will never, ever be a Disney dancer, despite your lifelong dream of wanting to be THAT girl.
Remember your own accomplishments instead of trying to stand in someone else’s shoes.
Note: I had every intention of writing up a similar post on the five niyamas before I left, but then I forgot that I needed a proper rain jacket for what looks to be a mildly damp week in Florida, so my jaunt out to L.L. Bean totally sucked up my blogging time!
On that note, I have to remember the niyama of samtosha (contentment) and accept that I’ve done all that I can physically do before heading out. Namaste!
I’m in Disney World right now, but I was sure to pack my yamas. (It’s cool, the TSA allows a maximum of five.)
As I wrote about in my previous post, it’s very possible to practice yoga without stepping on a mat. The physical form of yoga we all know and love–asana–is just one limb of eight that comprise the complete practice. Yamas is one of those other limbs, and it refers to measures of self-restraint. As Aadil Palkhivala states in his wonderfully written article, “the five yamas–kindness, truthfulness, abundance, continence, and self-reliance–are oriented toward our public behavior and allow us to coexist harmoniously with others.” Paired with the niyamas (another limb that includes five elements), the yamas are very much like a Ten Commandments for the yoga world.
Palkhivala’s article (which I’ll quote throughout this post) is very well written for those who are curious how to incorporate the yamas into their physical practice and puts these esoteric Sanskrit terms into everyday context. But how does one appreciate and practice the yamas while standing in line for 30 minutes to ride Space Mountain, like I’m doing now?
Yama #1: Ahimsa
“Ahimsa traditionally meant ‘do not kill or hurt people.’ This can be extrapolated to mean that we should not be violent in feelings, thoughts, words, or actions. At root, ahimsa means maintaining compassion towards yourself and others. It means being kind and treating all things with care.”
Ahimsa means keeping your cool, even when this kid throws a temper tantrum for 45 minutes straight while waiting for the afternoon parade to begin at Hollywood Studios. Ahimsa is what keeps us from flipping out on the parents, who look the other way and laugh as their boy wails loud enough to be heard over at Epcot.
Forcing your spouse into drinking the “Beverly” soft drink over at Epcot’s Coca-Cola Club Cool strays from ahimsa. We all know it tastes like sh*t, and it’s not very nice to torture each other for the sake of a funny photo.
On a more serious note, it’s easy to get overwhelmed at Disney World and want to cram everything into the day. When the body asks for some rest, accept it. Besides, that’s what the Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover, railroad, monorail, and the train to Rafiki’s Planet Watch are for.
Lastly, no matter how much fun a ride is, don’t overdo it. Remember self-compassion–ahimsa–and stick to no more than three consecutive rides on the teacups. Two if you’ve just eaten.
Yama #2: Satya
“Satya means ‘truth,’ or ‘not lying.’ Practicing satya means being truthful in our feelings, thoughts, and words, and deeds. It means being honest with ourselves and with others.”
Satya means withholding from telling your mate that the Beverly drink tastes “Awesome! You gotta try it!” (see above).
Satya means it’s OK to not really like the Hall of Presidents, to think Mission: Space is eh, or ::gasp:: to admit that the Carousel of Progress should be next on the chopping block. (The latter was really hard to write, but that’s the point of satya–be true to your feelings, despite the discomfort it may cause.)
Satya is being truthful about one’s obsession with Stitch and never playing down her love of the big blue alien, despite being a grown-up.
There are three more yamas that should be in your carry-on before any vacation, but you’ll have to wait until Thursday for the full Disney-fied breakdown. Stay tuned, and see ya real soon!
Ahhh, September. The start of National Yoga Month. Yet as all my fellow downward dawgs unfurl their mats to begin a month of celebration, contemplation, and meditation, I’m leaving my asana behind in New Jersey and heading to a land of not one but FOUR mountain poses: Space, Big Thunder, Splash, and Everest.
As the old saying goes, “I’m going to Disney World!”
Although I’ll still do a few hotel room sun salutations in the morning and most likely prop my achy legs up into Viparita Karani after a long day walking around World Showcase, the truth is that–for me–this first week of National Yoga Month will probably include very little yoga.
Well…let me rephrase that. It will probably include very little PHYSICAL yoga.
Unless you’re a yoga teacher, long-time student, or someone very devoted to the tenets of yoga philosophy, your vision of yoga is most likely the ol’ headstand-in-the-middle-of-the-room, foot-behind-the-head variety. The vision of yoga that makes you say, “I’m not flexible; I can’t do yoga.” The kind of yoga that requires a sticky mat, some kind of Lycra wardrobe, and either an instructional DVD or a gym membership.
But here’s the thing: That kind of yoga is only 1/8 of the practice.
The physical postures of yoga that we’re all most familiar with–termed asana in Sanskrit–is just one serving of a multiple-course meal. I didn’t know this myself until I had been taking yoga classes for about a year and was interested enough to pick up an issue of Yoga Journal, but it made sense. What had started as me taking some classes at my gym to improve my balance and flexibility gradually turned into something bigger. I felt kinder toward others after doing yoga. I developed a deeper appreciation of my body after doing yoga. I felt compelled to sit in silence and meditate and breathe after doing yoga.
Asana was the key into this wide world of yoga, a practice of not only physical postures but seven other “limbs”:
• Yamas (ethical restraints).
• Niyamas (personal observances).
• Pranayama (breath control).
• Pratyahara (sense withdrawal/control).
• Dharana (concentration/inner perceptual awareness).
• Dhyana (devotion, meditation).
• Samadhi (union with the divine).
So, as you can see, asana is just a sliver of lunchmeat in this extra-long hoagie we call yoga, which means it is very possible to still do yoga while walking the dog, doing the dishes, grocery shopping, or traveling.
I’ll never forget the way yoga became my best friend during my 3-week trip to China and Tibet in 2006. I didn’t touch a yoga mat for 21 days and never once had the floor space to even get into Downdog, but the emotional aspect of yoga, pranayama, and lovingkindness meditation completely enriched the adventure. There were so many times I could’ve gone ape sh*t, cried hysterically, or lost it completely, but I’m certain that the mental clarity and focus I cultivated from my then 2 years of asana yoga practice got me through it all and let me go with the flow–even our three days on the
pirate ship garbage barge Chinese cruise ship, where stowaways, cockroaches, and the residue of an uncleaned communal squat toilet punctuated our sweaty 72 hours out on the Yangtze.
Will I be doing Bakasana in the middle of Main Street, USA next week? Probably not. (Although man, that would make an awesome photo…!) Will I be doing yoga? You bet! In fact, I’m pretty sure I can apply all of the 10 yamas and niyamas to life inside the Magic Kingdom, and, as part of YIOM’s observance of National Yoga Month, I hope to blog about it. See what others have to say about the 8 limbs of yoga here…and then go out on a limb and see how you can incorporate a little slice of yoga lunchmeat into your life. 🙂