Yoga in its earliest form is likely to date back to the fifth and sixth centuries BC and it originates from ancient India.*
In a recent post about workplace yoga we discussed how the western practice is very different from its original form. Yoga as it is known here is often reduced to just the physical practice but it was actually developed and evolved as a way of life – encapsulating all the aspects of wholesome and ethical living.
There are eight parts to the philosophy of living a meaningful and purposeful life and these parts are called ‘limbs’. **The limbs of yoga are like a moral compass and provide the framework and guide to which we can navigate our way through life with good conduct and health.
The eight limbs of yoga
Asana: The physical postures
Pranayama: Breathing regulation
Pratyahara: Self-reflection and withdrawal of external stimuli
Dharana: Practicing focus of the mind
Samadhi: Bliss, ecstasy and wholeness
There are multiple folds to some limbs and we are going to focus on niyamas and how by incorporating them into our work life we can achieve more and feel more focussed and less stressed.
So what are the five niyamas and how can they help us?
Saucha: Cleanliness and purity
You only need to watch an episode of ‘Tidying up with Marie Kondo’ to realise how keeping tidy is a huge stress-reducer. If the important to-do list is hard to find and the elbows on your favourite crisp white shirt are getting a little less white – then it is time to clean up!
A chaotic workstation can lead us to feel more stressed and less able to focus.
Once the desk is clear, try bringing in some plants – green is the colour of calm and having a little piece of nature nearby can promote feelings of tranquillity.
Santosa: Contentment and optimism
When we think about contentment in the practice of santosa it is not always fully understood. We can be content with something being a shortfall or a weakness and accept and own that problem – then we can learn to improve it.
If there is something you are struggling with at work, try not to let it manifest itself into a stress. Accept it, acknowledge it and then look at ways that it can be done. Maybe a colleague can help? Asking for help may also help others to get support if they need it – possibly even forming new relationships along the way.
Tapas: Discipline and persistence
Most of us manage this practice without much thought and it is partly discipline and persistence that gets us to where we want to be.
The key is to be realistic about failures and know when to accept that although something is not working – there there are often many ways to do the same thing. If something is not getting the results you need, try looking at it from another perspective and finding another way to fix the problem. You may even find that you have the answer to someone else’s difficulty.
Svadhyaya: Studying oneself and sacred teachings
Many of us do not particularly look forward to an appraisal at work but we can use it to our advantage and even utilise it as a way of self-growth.
Be open about the areas you find difficult, discuss ways in which you can reach your goals and let it be an opportunity to be guided. Being open-minded and really hashing it out is likely to shed more light on new opportunities.
Isvarapranidhana: Devoting and surrendering to your faith (whatever it may be)
Whatever you believe in (or not believe in), we all have the ability to have faith – faith in oneself or faith in something higher.
If you are always hoping for that promotion but it seems unattainable, could it be that you are not believing in yourself enough? Having faith in yourself is having the self-belief to recognise that you are capable and the ability to put yourself forward. Ask for the promotion – have a little faith in yourself.
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Photo by Kyle Glenn on Unsplash