Find Balance with 5 Principles of Yoga

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Seeking balance? Follow the five points of yoga (or five principles of yoga) set forth by the Sivandana school of yoga to balance body, mind and spirit.

1. Proper Exercise (Asana). With proper exercise, our bodies become more flexible and strong. Regularly practicing asanas (postures) and other forms of exercise keeps us healthy. The type of exercise you choose is up to you, but whatever you choose, move it and shake it! The more you move and the healthier you become, the happier and freer you will be! Take care to not overdo and find balance with any asana or physical practice.

2. Proper Breathing (Pranayama). Ah, the breath. It's with us from the very beginning and will be there until the very end. It drives our prana (life force) and is one of the most essential elements to our practice. Bring awareness to your breath whenever you can noticing the pace, frequency, depth, and intensity with which you breathe throughout the day. A steady, deep, rhythmic breath is best for stilling the mind and relaxing the body.

3. Proper Relaxation (Savasana). Relaxation pose, corpse pose, whatever you call it, you should always end your practice with a proper savasana. Let it be known, savasana is not an opportunity to fall asleep (although it happens!). Rather, it is a time to completely relax the body and mind to reset the nervous system for healthy functioning. Other forms of relaxation are applicable here too. Find a healthy balance between rest and play in all you do, and feel rejuvenated and ready to take on the world!

4. Proper Diet (Vegetarian). You are what you eat. Most yogi's believe that a practice is not complete without a proper vegetarian diet. A vegetarian diet allows us to practice ahimsa (non-violence) being kinder to all beings everywhere. Also, we are strongly affected by the foods we ingest. By eating a light, healthy, vegetarian diet, watching our portions, and only eating enough to get our fill, we cultivate an attitude of awareness every time we sit down to eat. You certainly don't need to be a vegetarian to practice yoga, and I encourage you to find the right diet for you, but I think you should always be as informed as possible about the foods you eat.

5. Proper Thinking (Meditation). We are our thoughts. It's true. If you're feeling like a negative Nelly, pissed off, and altogether irritable, chances are most people will think the same of you. If, however, you're able to turn those thoughts around and look on the bright side of things, your attitude will shift and you'll find yourself in a pleasant, happy state, after all, happiness is what you make it. That's not to say life is all rainbows and butterflies, but with proper meditation (dhyana) you can learn to control the mind and turn negative thoughts into positive opportunities for growth.