Adopting a Yogic Lifestyle

Adopting a yogic lifestyle is the key to living a full and healthy life.

According to the wisdom traditions, five principles form the foundation of a yogic lifestyle:

  1. Balanced Diet
  2. Balanced Exercise
  3. Balanced engagement with the world
  4. Balanced Sleep
  5. Daily Practice (Sadhana)

Before diving into the principles of a yogic lifestyle, it’s important to acknowledge that living in this way is a process of personal unfoldment that requires dedication, effort, and consistent actions taken one day at a time.

Trusting in the process is paramount to our success on this path. Trusting that the wisdom teachings of yoga– passed on and practiced for thousands of years, have the power to lead us to a state of perfect balance, peace, and inner joy.

On this path, effort never goes to waste, and there is no failure. Even a little effort toward spiritual awareness will protect you from the greatest fear.

Bhagavad Gita

Now let’s dive into the five principles that form the foundation of a yogic lifestyle…

1. Balanced Diet

A balanced diet can be described in very simple terms. At the basic level, it means eating the right food, in the right amount, at the right time, and with a positive attitude. It means only eating when you’re hungry and stopping before you’re full.

The food we eat should be nourishing, minimally processed, and direct from nature–not manufactured in a factory. Fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds, oils, legumes, etc.

As you make adjustments in your diet, consider practicing the 80/20 rule: 80% of the time, eat nourishing, wholesome, nutritious foods. 20% allow yourself to go off the rails a bit, but keep it within reason. Find a middle path that works for you and experience the benefits of a whole-food diet for yourself.

I’ll also drop a note and say: consider vegetarianism. Try it for a day, a week, or a month. Or even start eating less meat and observe the results for yourself. More to come on the benefits of vegetarianism in a future blog post 🙂

2. Balanced Exercise

From a yogic perspective, balanced exercise should relax the nervous system and increase the body’s strength and flexibility. It should enhance the deeper, more subtle aspects of the body by clearing the subtle energy pathways (nadis) and awaken the energy (pranic) centers hidden deep within the body.

Lucky for us, the great wisdom traditions have left us with an abundance of yoga postures (asanas). Asanas are the physical postures that most of us think of as yoga. Practicing the asanas daily will build strength and flexibility, calm the nervous system, and awaken the body’s subtle energy, creating the perfect container for a fruitful meditation practice and happier life.

Check out my online yoga classes. I’d be honored to guide your asana journey.

3. Balanced Engagement with the world

A balanced engagement with the world requires familiarizing ourselves with a yogic philosophy of life. It means recognizing there is a higher reality that gave us this life and an intelligence residing within us that guides and nourishes our life’s journey.

Simply put, it means loving and respecting ourselves and others. It means giving more than we receive, putting others before ourselves, and being a productive member of our community. It means living in the world but remaining above it. It means not taking ourselves too seriously and honoring the gift and beauty of this life we’ve been given. It means enjoying physical objects and sense pleasures only in moderation, and setting our sights on getting to know more about the higher reality that gifted us with this life.

4. Balanced Sleep

Sleep is nature’s way of helping us relax and rejuvenate–nourishing our entire mind and body. More than a third of our life is spent sleeping, yet we often spend little time optimizing this aspect of our lives. Getting proper sleep is a necessary component of a healthy yogic lifestyle.

Here are practices that can help improve the quality of your sleep:

  1. Avoid eating solid food 3 hours before bedtime. Instead of digesting food, your body can utilize that energy for healing and restoration.
  2. Eliminate technology usage 30 minutes before bedtime. (this is a tough one, I know!) Instead, read an inspirational book or spiritual text or quietly reflect on your day.
  3. Incorporate relaxation practices into your nightly routine. 5-15 minutes will go a long way in supporting a healthy nervous system and enhancing your sleep.
  4. Maintain a healthy diet and regular exercise. Poor diet and exercise habits lead to many imbalances and have a negative impact on our sleep.

5. Daily Practice (Sadhana)

A daily spiritual practice (sadhana) is at the heart of a yogic lifestyle. Our daily sadhana is the single most profound thing we can do in our lives and the biggest gift we can give to ourselves and those around us. All previous principles of a yogic lifestyle are in service of our daily practice.

“Practice,” as it’s mentioned in the Yoga Sutras, can be defined as “a peaceful inward flow of awareness.” Therefore, our daily practice should lead toward and eventually include meditation. Meditation is the method by which we purify our mind and unlock our hidden potential.

Here are tips for developing a daily practice:

  1. Start small and be compassionate with yourself: commit to 15 minutes a day and allow that to evolve naturally over time. When you hit bumps in the road, have compassion for yourself and keep moving forward.
  2. Build your foundation: breath is the foundation of all yogic practices. Start by learning yogic breathing, then incorporate other pranayama practices into your life. See my breath training practices for guidance.
  3. Less is more: choose quality over quantity. It’s more productive to spend 15 minutes on breath training in crocodile pose than it is to spend 4 minutes of breath training, 4 minutes of asanas, 4 minutes of relaxation, and 3 minutes of meditation.
  4. Find a teacher: Learn the techniques from a competent teacher and follow teachings that are rooted in an authentic yogic tradition. Check out my Patreon to Learn authentic yoga teachings inspired by the Himalayan Tradition.
  5. Keep good company: Attend spiritual talks (satsang) and surround yourself with spiritually-centered people. Slowly eliminate people, places, and things that prevent you from living your best life.
  6. Practice in the morning: The morning hours provide the perfect container for our daily sadhana. Much of the world is asleep, things are quiet, and the tasks and interactions of the day haven’t yet bombarded our minds. Make your morning practice the foundation of your day, and watch your life unfold in profound and meaningful ways.

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