Yoga Bookclub: The Yamas & Niyamas and my 6 Favorite Learnings So Far

A while back I started reading “Autobiography of a Yogi” by Yogananda and quickly realized it was a beast of a book to be reading solo without anyone to digest it with. I wanted to have someone to chat about the book with and decided that probably meant I needed a bookclub, and what better way to do that than through a yoga studio.

Fast forward a few weeks and I’d found two other yoga teachers at our studio who were interested in starting up a bi-monthly bookclub with our already amazing community of yogis.

The first book is The Yamas and Niyamas and I have to admit it’s almost hard to read continuously as every paragraph has something I want to write down! Here are a few of my favorite thoughts to muse over in the first couple of chapters:

  1. On Courage, I like thinking about it in this really eye opening way that the book articulates. “Courage is not the absence of fear but the ability to be afraid without being paralyzed”. I cannot tell you, as a very anxious tightly wound person, how often I literally feel my fears paralyzingly me. So perfectly put by the author.
  2. This description of facing fears really hit home as well. I have recently been engaging in really great political discussions & debates with people who have very different views than I do. It’s scary to have these discussions but it is so important, and we learn so much by viewing another side of an argument. “As we walk into our fears with both people and experiences, we will find that our sense of self has grown. Our view has expanded; the world suddenly looks like a bigger place, and we are more competent to navigate in it.”
  3. I am SO guilty of this, and I never realized it was a form of violence, although when I do it I know it doesn’t feel good. I’m going to start really trying to be conscious about not thinking my way is the best way for someone else: “Thinking we know what is better for others becomes a subtle way we do violence. When we take it upon ourselves to "help" the other we whittle away at their sense of autonomy.”
  4. Similarly to number 3: “Nonviolence asks us to trust the others journey and love and support others to their highest image of themselves, not our highest image of them.”
  5. This next one really sunk in when I was out in LA with my niece and nephews recently. As often is the case with little kids when you say “do you want me to help you?” they snap back with “NO! I can do it all by myself!” Even when they can’t fully accomplish something on their own, can we think of asking them if they want or need support instead of help? I am so excited to start changing my rhetoric here going forward: “For me, help carries the connotation that I am more skilled at life's decisions and challenges than the other person is. Whereas support meets the other person on equal playing ground with equal ability and is able to sit with more awe and respect than answers. “
  6. And THIS is just SO beautiful. Just like my favorite part of the Unitarian prayer which states “Take good care of the earth because it is our home” this statement too is so wonderful: "With each step I touch the earth lightly to do her no harm, and she in turn does me no harm"

What are your favorites? Have you read this book? I'll be sharing more soon!