The great sage Patanjali created an eight limbed approach to the study of Yoga. The first two limbs are the ethical and moral practices that form the foundation of intelligent and skillful practice. Yoga is so much more than the physical postures. Having an understanding of the Yamas & Niyamas gives you a touchstone, a reference for practicing with right intention. Deborah Adele wrote a terrific little book that teaches about the yamas & niyamas in a very straight forward easy to understand and easily applicable way. https://bookshop.org/books/the-yamas-niyamas-exploring-yoga-s-ethical-practice/9780974470641. Heres a link to purchase the book for less than the cost of 1 class!
In the words of BKS Iyengar “An asana must be righteous and virtuous. By righteous I mean that it must be true. You must not cheat or pretend. You must fill every inch of you body with the asana from your chest and arms and legs to the tips of your fingers and toes so that the asana radiates from the core of your body and fills the entire diameter and circumference of your limbs. You must fell your intelligence, your awareness and your consciousness in every inch of your body. By virtuous, I mean that it must be done with the right intention, not for ego or to impress but for the Self and to move closer to God. In this way, the asana is a sacred offering. We are surrendering our egos. This is supreme devotion to God (Isvara Pranidana).”
Here Iyengar references the final Niyama, the ultimate goal of practice: to surrender the fruits of your labor.
It’s a lot of God talk for a Hindu! So if you have an aversion to that word, don’t disregard the wisdom offered here, just change the word to something that resinates with your spirit. It’s all yoga!!
To align your practice with the principles of non-violence, truthfulness, non-stealing, conservation of energy and non-attachment, you are practicing in harmony. When you add purity, contentment, discipline and self knowledge then surrendering comes more easily. Go deeper! Get inspired! Live well!