International Journal of Yoga
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   Table of Contents     
Year : 2016  |  Volume : 9  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 178-179
Living your yoga

Directorate of Distance Education, S-VYASA University, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India

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Date of Web Publication9-Jun-2016

How to cite this article:
Nagarajan K. Living your yoga. Int J Yoga 2016;9:178-9

How to cite this URL:
Nagarajan K. Living your yoga. Int J Yoga [serial online] 2016 [cited 2023 Mar 21];9:178-9. Available from:

Author: Dr. Judith Hanson Lasater, Ph. D., P.T.

Year: 2015

Publisher: Rodmell Press, Berkeley, California

The author of the book Dr. Judith Hanson Lasater is a Yoga teacher, with more than four decades of experience from California. She is also the author of several Yoga books pertaining to lifestyle adaptations through yogic principles and practices. This book addresses yogic practices to be cultivated for personal growth to live in harmony with nature catering to healthy internal and external environment.

The book is in three parts. The author discusses the qualities to be cultivated under each part with reference to Patanjali's Yoga Sutras and Bhagavad-Gita, quoting the relevant verses. The ways to cultivate the qualities (such as love and compassion) and relevant mantras for daily living are given for each quality. She has shared her personal experience, some stories, and illustrations under each quality.

The first part speaks concerning awareness of internal disciplines and qualities to be cultivated for bringing in such disciplines. These practices make our actions conducive to personal growth.

To abide in our own self is to be present with a sense of fullness and to create a loving environment without self-judgment. As a means to abide in our own true nature, we must commit to develop awareness by observing our lives, our thoughts, our words, and our actions. This is in line with Patanjali's aphorism tada drashtuh svarupe avasthanam (Yoga Sutra 1.3) implying when we come to realize our true nature we are free from miseries.

To observe our bodily sensations and the breath means to consciously relax our body and slow down our breath. When we are relaxed we see things as they are. When we are in relaxation, it gives room for expansion, coinciding with the infinite. This helps us to love others and ourselves without any expectations. This state makes us witness our own thoughts and not be carried away by them. It helps to develop faith and a willingness to accept reality.

Elaborating Patanjali and Bhagavad-Gita, the author explains abhyasa and vairagya. Abhyasa is doing everything intimately present in each and every moment, not performing actions mechanically without inner transformations. Vairagya is letting go which is an act of surrender. This, as per the author, is the key to living in yoga.

It is possible to extend this thinking bringing in the importance of practice. Instead of just witnessing our thoughts, we identify the mind and its modifications. We become one with the flow of thoughts. Hence, abhyasa is important which is constant inner practice and vairagya, the act of detachment.

The second part speaks about remaining truly open and aware of intimate relationships.

The first quality presented is compassion that is awareness of others' suffering. We should let go the desire to control what we see around us. The author observes that the urge to control comes from the fear of death and unhappiness. These refer to the five klesas that the sutras talk about. Inner peace brings us freedom and wholeness, which binds us all with universal love.

Further, the author suggests that greed and anger springs from fear. However, there is another dimension to this; namely, fear comes from inordinate involvement to the material. Hence, Bhartrhari (a famous poet) says that vairagya or dispassion makes a person fearless.

Clinging to a particular preference whether it is from attachment or aversion creates suffering. Hence, Lord Krishna gives the solution of being in moderation and maintaining equanimity. Recognizing one's preferences to attachment and aversion is half the solution. We suffer when we identify ourselves with pain. We have choice to either suffer or not to suffer!

Only change is enduring and certain in all things – change of seasons, day, changes in the crust of the earth, inhalation, exhalation, etc., Quantum physics also teaches about the uncertainty and impermanent nature of the material world around us. Accepting the changes also makes us fearless. We may also say the main reason of annoyance is our uncontrolled responses to pleasant or unpleasant conditions in which we get involved. It is good to remind oneself the attitudes that Sage Patanjali recommend for cultivating pleasant disposition. The mind of a person is clarified through cultivating attitudes of friendliness, compassion, cheerfulness, and nonjudgmental mindset toward happiness, misery, virtue, and vice, respectively (Sutra 1.33). With practice of these right attitudes, we achieve pleasant disposition in various kinds of situations that may arise in one's relationship with people around.

The third part is to transcend ordinary way of thinking. First, the author goes on to remark that the answer to greed is aparigraha or nonhoarding. A balance between your needs and desire as suggested by Sage Patanjali should be implemented. It may be said that the follower of the law of love cannot hoard anything for oneself. There are two aspects that face us in our life: They are impermanent material nature and our material cravings that never satisfy our desires. The author discusses the concept of Karma Yoga, to work without attachment to the outcome as Lord Krishna also says.

The author mentions that when we can live with deep faith in our connections, it makes us fearless, want-less, and needless. We should develop the wisdom to see the interconnectedness which is the thread connecting us all. Sharing this connectedness is love. Love comes when one does not react. Success in life is living with an open, loving heart, which connects us with the Divine within and in others.

We should be grounded in truthfulness from which the universe springs. This makes action and fruition depend on the supreme. The author concludes that our actions and practice must be an offering to the universal principle with an awareness of gratitude.

In conclusion, the reviewer feels that the prescribed ten values of Patanjali under the title, “yama and niyama” are essential and includes all that is experienced and listed by the author under various headings. These characteristics help in developing a personality, which has obtained through external and internal purity. Such a person has a joyful disposition, develops mastery over his/her senses, and has moderation in enjoyment. Yama and niyamas should be practiced regularly and with consistency. In this age of yoga practice, the focus is only on asanas and pranayama, with little emphasis or even information on yama and niyama. Thus, the importance of this book in introducing these components of yoga cannot be overemphasized.

Correspondence Address:
Karuna Nagarajan
Directorate of Distance Education, S-VYASA University, Bengaluru, Karnataka
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0973-6131.183708

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