The Lifestyle of Yoga

Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati

Whatever you have picked up either a little bit or very much, and whatever you have understood, try to apply it in your life. The main thrust of this ashram is not the practice of yoga but the lifestyle of yoga.

What is practice anyway? What do people practise? Out of the entire system of yoga we only practise a few asana, a few pranayama, one relaxation and possibly one meditation practice. So out of one thousand things we only practise four little minor things and we call that yoga.

In reality, the purpose of yoga is twofold: one is expansion of consciousness and the other is liberation of energy. People think, ‘Oh if I meditate expansion of consciousness will happen’. They retain this idea of expanding the consciousness by simply observing themselves for ten or fifteen minutes during the meditative practice. They don’t think of expanding that awareness into the normal day-to-day, moment to moment activities of the entire day.

In lifestyle the focus is to extend awareness into the normal routine, learn it through practice and extend it into daily life. Ultimately, one has to integrate the principles of yoga and awareness into life, not only into meditation, asana and pranayama.

Therefore, whatever you do, your focus should be to include and incorporate the ideas of yoga, the principles, the practices, the yamas and niyamas of yoga in whatever manner possible in your life. Start with the first yama of being happy, of happiness, manahprasad. Be happy and extend the moment of happiness from a five-second smile to a six-second smile tomorrow, to seven seconds the day after until you get a fixed grin on your face. In this way you extend the moments of happiness.

Even that first yama is a big achievement and attainment. What will it do? It will improve your life, it will improve your mind, it will improve your energy, stamina and mood. There will be an overall change. The same applies to the other things you do, your asana, your pranayama. If you do it at the right time in the right manner benefits will be derived. Therefore, the focus has to be ‘lifestyle’ and if you can carry that much with you from your four-month stay at Ganga Darshan, you will become a yogi.

—27 January 2017, satsang to four-month Yogic Studies students