Yoga as a physical practice is an amazing way to engage with the body. Through warrior poses, we build strength in the legs. In yin postures, we enhance our flexibility and patience. As we flow through the practice, we learn to move in accordance with our breath and what feels right to our own bodies. We get toned and feel great. However, there is more to yoga than the physical practice. In exploring the Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga, we will learn how to implement yogic practices into daily living.
The Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga are inspired by 5,000 year old Vedic wisdom and modern day yoga. In a wonderful book written by Deepak Chopra and David Simon that walks readers through yoga postures, breathing exercises, meditation practices, and ways to implement yogic principles into modern life. The laws are not just used for yoga, in fact, the laws can be applied to anything in life. Chopra’s first book on the spiritual laws was actually about success.
While the names of the spiritual laws may sound overwhelming, they are simpler to understand than one might imagine. These laws are designed to make life easier, not more challenging. I encourage you to explore each law (Chopra suggests assigning one to each day of the week) and see how it serves you.
The Law of Pure Potentiality
Regardless of your beliefs, whether you believe in God, Higher Consciousness, Universe, etc., this is the understanding that we are all connected to something greater than us. This power that connects us is absolutely limitless, the potential is never ending. Which would mean that we are also limitless. We have pure potential when it comes to how much we can learn, grow, explore our intuition, and enjoy bliss.
We can understand the ego that controls ours lives – the voice in our head that separates us from others and is always finding something to worry about. Most of us have also experienced our higher Self, the voice of reason in your head, the one that drives your intuition. When we are inline with our higher self, we can become the witness of our ego and feel less involved in the chaos it brings.
How does this connect to yoga? In yoga, we practice the art and joy of just being. We take the time to practice stillness of the mind and the body. While on the mat, play witness to everything. Notice the feelings within your body, what is happening in the brain, and just be aware of the environment. At the same time, focus on non-judgement. We release any competition, frustration with our minds or bodies, and just allow ourselves to “be”.
The Law of Giving and Receiving
The Law of Giving and Receiving is settled in the acceptance that their is a circular connection between what we give out to the world and what we receive back. Whether giving time, money, resources, or love, what we energetically give to the world, we will receive back in some form. This is as simple as the breath, with the inhale we receive and with the exhale, we give back.
Notice that this does not only mean physical gifts. This is also the energy we carry. If we give anger and misery to the world, that is what we will continue to receive back. When we live in gratitude and joy, again the Universe will return this to us. However, a number of us are not as good as receiving. We can give love and resources all day, but block ourselves from receiving the same back. This will never allow for a fulfilling life. We must become comfortable with giving and receiving.
How does this connect to yoga? This law is best experienced when we focus on the breath. Become fully aware of the breath throughout your practice. Try this: Take a long inhalation and hold the breath in for as long as you can. Take a couple breaths and try this again on the exhalation. Notice how uncomfortable it is? This is because it is unnatural for us to hold onto things or deplete ourselves of things. We must practice giving and receiving.
The Law of Karma (or Cause and Effect)
This law may sound similar to the give and receive principle, as it follows the same cause and effect model. We have all thrown around the word “karma” as a casual reference to explain why something good or bad happened to us or someone else. There is a widely accepted idea of karma – if you are a bad person, bad things will happen to you and vice versa.
Karma is not that simplistic or caged in. We also have the common phrase “we reap what we sow,” meaning that we consciously make the choices in our lives that give us whatever outcome we are currently facing. This may be hard to accept at first, but understand that we have full control of how we react to every situation. We have freewill to make choices; this is the law of Karma.
How does this connect to yoga? Become aware of the choices you make on the yoga mat. When we can focus in on our bodies and what they need, we become less likely to make poor choices. Often times, when a yogi receives injury, they actively made the decision to take a posture too deep without properly stretching or are not paying attention to alignment. Slow down and listen for guidance, both on and off the mat.
The Law of Least Effort
When we are actively making the choices that make the most sense with our consciousness, we are much less likely to come up against road blocks. This is the Law of Least Effort. When our actions are not motivated by love and abundance, but are being influenced by fear instead, we are going to hit obstacles and resistance.
In today’s rat race, we believe that in order to receive more, we must do more. We must “work hard to play hard” or believe “no pain, no game.” This is not necessarily true. In fact, when we continue to push ourselves towards things that are clearly not working for us, we achieve little but stress and frustration. When we are in alignment with our true purpose and are moving with love, we are back in line with the infinite potential and the right paths open for us.
How does this connect to yoga? This is the art of accepting where we are in our practice each day. Love and accept our bodies, how we move on the mat, and how far we’ve come. We also do not practice pushing our bodies into pretzel shapes for the sake of making painful instagram posts. Become aware of what feels right on the body and do not push against resistance. Enjoy some yin or restorative yoga if this is challenging for you.
The Law of Intention and Desire
This law is very similar to the law of attraction. It is the understanding that what we focus on, we receive. This is the understanding that we can shape our own realities purely through the way we use our mind, set our attention, and focus on desire. We are limitless creatures, remember?
Ever make a vision board? The reason vision boards are so powerful is because we focus on our deepest desires. In doing so, we set the right motion to make our dreams a reality. We must become masters of our attention and intention. We must focus on what it is we are looking to create in our lives, not what we are not wanting.
How does this connect to yoga? In the beginning of your yoga practice, set the intention for your class. Are you looking to get a deep stretch, a strength building sequence, or want to clear the mind? Keep that as your main focus throughout the class and let it guide the practice. After we set the intention, practice the act of surrender. Stop feeling the need to control outcomes. Focus on the desire and just see what happens.
The Law of Detachment
When we truly hold faith in the Universe (or God or consciousness, etc.), we can let go of our attachment to certain outcomes. We can trust that the right path for our lives are being put together and we can release worry and fear. Attachment is fully connected to fear and insecurity; we struggle to hold onto things, people, situations, jobs, etc. We come up with our “life plan” and cannot handle when situations throw us off course.
What we must find instead is complete security within ourselves. Release the need to control every situation, knowing that we will be taken care of when we surrender. Focus on pure self love. This will give you the courage to go with the flow and know everything is doing to be okay. This is how we avoid codependency and thrive within ourselves.
How does this connect to yoga? Remember that yoga is not competitive. We must release our expectations of how long it should take for us to touch our toes. Let go of the worry that you aren’t progressing enough or don’t “look right.” Surrender to the practice and experience the joy of actual yoga. Release the ego’s need to achieve and enjoy the journey of yoga instead.
The Law of Dharma (of Purpose in Life)
In yoga teachings, Dharma is translated to your life’s purpose. We are all unique individuals, blessed with our own talents, our own perspectives, and our own truths. We serve the world when we can honor the things that make us truly special. Understand your strengths and weaknesses by becoming self aware of how you can best contribute to the world.
When we are living in our purpose (in dharma), life force flows through us effortlessly. We serve others at our highest capacity, making our best contribution to the universe. This does not have to be in your profession. It just means that you are not holding back from sharing your talents and gifts with the world, however you can do that.
How does this connect to yoga? In the silence and stillness of the practice, become aware of the witness within you. Let the voice of you higher consciousness guide you in the quiet moments. Notice the postures that you enter into naturally and find joy in these poses. Rather than focuses on where your practice is lacking, find celebration in the parts of your practice that are doing well.
Did you make it through all seven spiritual laws?! Good work! I know these principles can feel a little heavy to digest, but if you can explore what each one means to you, I think you will find a lot of clarity for your life.
In my practice, I make the daily effort to use any means possible to replace fear with love. Spiritual laws can be great tools to help me reshape old mental patterns to something new, that serves my goals.
If you are looking to make changes in your life or aren’t even sure how to get started, I am here for you. We can schedule a free 15-minute consult to help you find some more clarity and I will share some tools to help you make the right moves in your life to find more happiness and alignment.
Questions? Make sure to comment below. I would love to know, which law was the most challenging for you to digest?
The magic in me honors that in every single one of you <3