Like almost all people who do yoga, my initial approach to taking a class was that it was an exotic and mysterious fitness class. I liked fitness classes so this would be easy. Well what I’ve learned in the last fifteen years of doing and teaching yoga is this –
- Yoga is not a fitness class
- The class I took was the hardest ‘fitness class’ I’d ever taken and it kicked my ass!
So, yes, I have figured out that the physical practice (what we westerners call ‘yoga’ is only one very small piece of being a living and breathing yogi (or yogini in my case 😉).
And yes, the class was incredibly hard, but I loved it. At that time in my life I only knew to use my body in that way, so it made sense to me to enter into the world of yoga through the door marked ‘Asana’. Asana is the physical practice of yoga – it’s the actual ‘poses’ that we do on the mat, like warrior pose or child’s pose.
In more recent years I’ve immersed myself in the study of the other aspects of yoga such as meditation, breath work and philosophy. All of this has served me through life’s ups and downs and now I can’t imagine ever doing yoga as a ‘fitness class’.
Rewind 5,000 years to the dawn of yoga philosophy and you will find that using ‘asana’ (remember, the poses we do on our mat) was a way for human beings to connect to the divine. Today we call that the ‘Mind/Body’ connection! So, although in modern day we turn to yoga to get fit (and change the outside of our bodies) the opportunity to use it for so much more, including a connection to the divine, is still available to us.
What are the four aims of yoga?
The four aims represent the common wishes of all people regardless of socioeconomic status, geographical location or religious designations. All people want to feel as if their life has purpose, they have enough material comfort to live the life they desire, they can have pleasurable experiences and they have a connection to a higher power.
Living your life in accordance to the four aims of yoga gives you more of what you want – joy, health, wealth, acceptance, love… And less of what you don’t – anxiety, worry, lack of purpose, lonliness.
Below I’ve given you a brief description of each of the four Aims –
Dharma – The desire to live out the purpose for you being here in this precise time and space. Each of us has a unique purpose exemplified by our skills, strengths aptitudes and experiences. Our most sacred ‘Self’, I also call this our Inner Guru, always seeks to bring our dharma to life and to put us on the right path. The problem is we don’t always listen to it or we get distracted by other stuff that shows up.
Artha – This shows up in the means (or material goods) necessary for us to execute our dharma. Although it does have to do with material goods it does not support having things in excess for no reason. Artha is being minfdul of what we need in order to be the best version of ourselves using our gifts and talents. For example, if my dharma is to be a race car driver I will need resources to buy a race car. Or if my dharma is to be someone, like a nurse, that cares for others I will need the means to get the education necessary to do this.
Kama – I know you’re first thought was ‘kama sutra’ as in the most famous of all sex manuals. You’re only partly on the right track. Yes, Kama refers to the pleasures in our life, but it extends beyond sensual pleasure. Living a fulfilling life that includes kama means you fill your life the things like family, friendships, art, good food, walks in nature, crafts, whatever you are attracted to that adds value to your life and stimulates a sense of well-being. Kama is manifested by using any and/or all our senses – taste, touch, smell, sight, sound. The goal of living a full life does not require us to become monks living in a cave in Napal (although I would like to try that!).
Moksha – This relates to the feeling of cultivating lasting peace and oneness with your life and higher power. Moksha is the desire to feel free of life’s burdens and to experience the highest truth. Moksha is the most important of the four aims (with dharma being a close second), but it is often the one we spend the least amount of time on. Prayer, meditation, reflection are examples of how we can bring more moksha into our lives.
Through out our lives we ebb and flow in and out of these four aims focusing on the one(s) that align with our age/stage of life. The goal is to create a life that creates balance in the aims and ultimate leads to peaceful, powerful, and purposeful life.
But how do the four aims empower my life and biz?
I thought you’d never ask! In the next post I’ll do a deep dive into the four aims and how they create a radiant life. Think of this as a cliff hanger on your favorite show… You’re welcome 😉
If the idea of living a life that aligns with your purpose, creates powerful abundance and makes you feel at deep peace with yourself click here to sign to be the first to know about my signature program ‘The PS’. I will be opening it for registration soon!