What is yoga?
Once a practicing yogi has developed faith in themselves, they are one step closer to mastering the mind. But the Bishnu Ghosh lineage of yoga – as followed here at Hot Yoga Ibiza – tells us there are four more steps to connecting with your true self. So what is the next phase of yoga?
The second element is self-control. As with many things in life, this is easier said than done but it’s actually as simple as understanding the distinction between wants and needs – and having the mental discipline to act on this. And that’s the tricky part.
Because of course, we all want things in order to live a happy life. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that (within reason – remember the old adage that money can’t buy you happiness). In fact, it’s normal. But on occasion, we can confuse wanting with needing, and according to Bikram Choudhury (and the general laws of common sense) we have an overall responsibility to satisfy our physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and financial needs, before setting about achieving our wants.
So what do we need in life? We need food and water for our bodies to function. We need shelter in which to live comfortably. We need clothes to wear. We (usually) need money to supply this sustenance, clothing and shelter, and in order to earn this money, we need jobs. We need access to transport to get to our jobs on time and to get home at the end of the day. And as discussed last month, we need to have faith in ourselves and the world around us. As human beings, we also need love, emotional support and friendship.
It is only after we have satisfied these needs that we should start to think about life’s non-essential upgrades. Maybe we want a new car. Or a bigger house. It could simply be those amazing new yoga pants or the chance to go on retreat in an exotic location. Whatever your own personal variation of ‘want’ is, putting materialistic desires ahead of life’s essentials can cause life to spin into chaos.
And so we come back to self-control. Distinguishing the difference between your desires and obligations is as simple as asking yourself a question when you feel yourself wanting something. Establish if you need it, or simply want it. After you’ve made the distinction, it’s your prerogative to go ahead and get it – or not get it – but if you are aware of the element’s true place in your life, and have made your choice consciously, you have effectively practiced self-control.
The more you understand the difference between your wants and your needs – by simply asking yourself the question – the more you will lean towards satisfying your needs first. Wants can change – whether quickly, over time, or with circumstances – but needs are constant. Tipping the balance in favour of wants can cause you to neglect your true needs, displaying a lack of moral strength and ultimately causing you to suffer. But tipping the scales in favour of needs sees you reach one step closer to the true goals of yoga. The next step? It’s all about determination…