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5 Basic Principles of a Yogic Lifestyle

With every book I read, teacher training weekends, workshops and time on the mat, I’m learning how yoga truly goes beyond a physical practice. Yoga is a foundation for healthy living.

Yoga is a foundation for healthy living. By closely observing the lifestyles and needs of people in the west, Swami Vishnudevananda synthesized the ancient wisdom of yoga into five basic principles that can easily be incorporated into a lifestyle and provide a solid foundation for healthy living. It is around these five principles that the teachings are based.By closely observing the lifestyles and needs of people in the west, Swami Vishnudevananda synthesized the ancient wisdom of yoga into five basic principles that can easily be incorporated into a lifestyle and provide a solid foundation for healthy living. It is around these five principles that the teachings are based.

Buddha was asked, “What have you gained from meditation?” He replied, “Nothing! However, let me tell you what I have lost: anger, anxiety, depression, insecurity, and fear of old age and death.”

Swami Vishnudevananda summarized the yoga philosophy in 5 principles or the Five Points of Yoga which make the complex teachings of yoga easier to understand:

Proper Exercise – Asana

Proper exercise should be pleasant to the practitioner while beneficial to the body, mind and spiritual life. Asanas were invented to keep the physical body strong, open and well. The principle is based on a balanced asana practice giving you everything your body needs. Yoga strengthens the body, improves circulation, helps with flexibility, and stimulates the endocrine system.

Proper Breathing – Pranayama

Control and regulation of prana, subtle energy.

Breathing is the practice of pranayama. Control of prana, or energy, is obtained through the practice of breath control. Exercises like Anuloma Viloma (alternate nostril breathing) and Kapalabhati (breath of fire) stimulate the nervous system, detoxifies the cardiorespiratory system (through the elimination of gaseous waste), and conditions us to maintain a calm and steady breath during times of physical or emotional stress.

Proper Relaxation – Savasana

Yoga teaches three levels of relaxation – physical, mental and spiritual.

When the mind and body are constantly overworked, their natural function, performance and homeostasis (internal states of equilibrium) significantly decrease. An enormous amount of healing takes place when we relax and restore. Deep relaxation restores our Prana (life-force) and allows us to experience a deep sense of inner peace. Physical and mental relaxation; resets the nervous system and metabolism, flushes cellular waste, reduces stress hormones, balances blood pressure and reduces pain perception.

Proper Diet – Lacto-Vegetarian

We are what we eat.

The most fundamental ingredient behind this principle is simply choosing foods that are Sattvic, plant based, pure, simple, and natural that are easily digested and nourish the body. Fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, herbs, herbal teas and fresh water. Listen to you body and eat intuitively to sustain the body and mind.

Positive Thinking and Meditation – Dharana and Dhyana

The key to achieving peace of mind.

The mind will be brought under perfect control by regular practice of meditation. Focus the mind, deepen our experience, reach the ultimate goal of yoga, Samadhi (enlightenment, bliss.)

Health is wealth, peace of mind is happiness, yoga shows the way.
– Swami Vishnudevananda

I would love to chat:

What is your foundation for healthy living? What serves as your guide for healthy living?

be the best version of YOU

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38 Comments

  1. This is so helpful, I love having all of these bite-sized explanations of things. Thanks for the rundown! I’d love to incorporate more yoga into my life.

  2. I think I need to start listening to my body and giving it the spiritual fulfillment it needs. I need to learn to relax more and perhaps yoga could help?

  3. That is a great quote at the end of your post about Yoga, and it is totally true! For me its all about relaxing, breathing and just quieting myself.

  4. I love yoga so much! I had to cut back over the past month due to severe bronchitis but I’m eager to jump back in!

  5. Listening to my body to figure out the foods I need has been a game changer in my life over the past several years. Knowing which foods bother me, and when I really need to eat something specific. It isn’t easy to do, but worth the time it takes to really listen!

  6. I had a major health crisis 3 years ago. While my life is changed forever, I am very aware of my body and what works it. I had always enjoyed yoga and when my doctors finally cleared me to do limited exercise, Yoga was allowed! It is one of those beautiful things for us all! It has helped my brain, balance, and keeps me in shape!

  7. I have a teaching colleague who swears by yoga. She claims that it keeps her in shape and helps her emotionally and spiritually. I like that you can do yoga at your pace and with your physical limitations.

  8. I practiced yoga in college where I was a dance major and really loved learning about all of it. I still do it from time to time. Sometimes I just need to escape through a different kind of movement and try really hard to clear my head.

  9. I love Yoga and have been practicing for years. Thanks so much to your post. I haven’t had the time to practice my pranayama or my asanas, but your post reminded me of how important Yoga is to me!

  10. All great tips! I confess Savasana is my most favorite part of yoga. It is the point of my day that I truly commit to relaxing without any other distractions.

  11. Such great cornerstones to a balanced life! My only comment would be that while “we are what we eat” is true figuratively, that “diet” choice is personal and should not be judged. That being said, bring on the beef — haha, just kidding … well, not really 😉

  12. I’ve been dabbling in yoga for years and have heard these terms but didn’t really understand how they all fit together. So interesting. I don’t think I actually want to teach yoga, but I think I’d find the training fascinating! The vegetarian thing is really interesting too.

  13. I’ve been actively working on getting more sleep and drinking more water, because I feel so much better when I do both things.

  14. I love reading about yoga since it’s a practice that you have to really practice! 🙂 Great tips. Now if i can just hone in on the diet part

  15. I love learning so much about yoga. Positive thinking is a foundation for me and something I am continually working on.

  16. As a three-time cancer survivor, I cannot do this diet due to my need to sustain my red blood cell counts (I was ovo-lacto for fifteen years and my health depleted). However, I’d like to learn more about Pranayama. I have had two chest tubes in my left lung and was trapped in a fire. (I think I have 9 lives)…My breathing needs a lot of improvement.

  17. I could really use the principles of yoga in my life! I think they would make a big impact on me!

  18. i have heard these words every now and then but never looked into detail. thank you so much for sharing this..even though im not a yogi, i am always interested to learn more about yogic lifestyle.

  19. I recently completed a 30 day yoga challenge and now i find myself using the Pranayama breath even when I am doing cardio or strength training. It really does help.

  20. I didn’t know these 5 parts of yoga. So interesting to learn. I didn’t know that exercise was only 1 part.

  21. Robin Rue (@massholemommy) says:

    My sister in law swears by yoga. I have never been, but she keeps trying to get me to go to a class with her. I might take her up on it one of these days.

  22. Eat healthy, manage portions, exercise 30-45 minutes for 6 days a week, reduce stress, stay hydrated, keep your mind active.

  23. I love doing yoga! I also find that when I am better at practicing I drink more water and want to eat less junk.

  24. Every time I go home to visit my parents I go to my mom’s yoga studio with her and love it! Sadly, I don’t really like any of the studios near me. I so badly want to get into regular practice 🙂

  25. Yoga truly embraces a healthy lifestyle. It is not meant to be competitive but more a way to get in touch with your own spirit. Great post. Namaste. xo Lauren

  26. You have captured the essence of the yoga practice! I find myself in a state of total bliss after even a few minutes of concentrated yoga time. It’s such a peaceful and restorative practice.

  27. This is really interesting.. especially the diet part. I love yoga- but I’m 100% a meat eater! I do a lot of different physical activities, and I find that I’m always under in protein when I don’t eat meat.

  28. I LOVE yoga! I am a vegetarian (well, mostly) but I didn’t do it because of the yoga lifestyle. I do it because of a choice I made 14 years ago and because this is how my body feels best, but I do continue to eat and make changes as feels best for my body. With that said, I feel like the vegetarian lifestyle of yogis is more of an older tradition that isn’t so strict these days.

  29. I really am leaning towards taking yoga teacher training…this may be a goal in the future. I don’t know if I would actually teach yoga, but I’d really like to embrace the teachings and live them. Isn’t it interesting how our thinking evolves?

  30. my biggest foundation for healthy living is probably to stay healthy enough not to need to take pills for anything. to try to eat healthy, drink water, do some activity, and sleep.

  31. Reading this makes me wonder again what Ive thought before:
    EATING. YOGIS.
    Are any of them NOT vegetarians?
    Or do you think many may start out NOT and end up shifting that way?

    1. I’ve wondered the same thing Carla, “eating like a yogi”. Most of the yogis I know are not vegetarians but many talk about becoming one. It’s all very fascinating to me. Human nature. Yoga. Culture.

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