Yoga is a balancing act in more ways than one, not only do we have to find balance on our mats lest we literally fall over and potentially do ourselves an injury, we also have to find balance within ourselves and community.
In order that we arrive on the mat in the first place we need COURAGE, there are a million excuses not to do yoga, too old, too fat, too ill, too many commitments and responsibilities, no time, no money, but usually these excuses have no real basis, we can find solutions and taking the plunge can take us on a first step to improved wellbeing.
Of course we need PRUDENCE, using wisdom to judge the most appropriate time for our practice working it around our commitments but we should not devalue the importance of our health and sacrifice this to our work and families. If we lose our health we will ultimately be able to give less to others, so taking care of our bodies and mind will enable us to be more productive.
Although if we become too excessive and obsessive, this can be as dangerous as inactivity as we can injure ourselves or burn ourselves out and have no energy for anything else, therefore we need TEMPERENCE, the practice of self-control and moderation; although temperance should not be confused with just plain laziness.
As I said It is a constant balancing act, like the scales of JUSTICE, if we fall out of balance either way this can lead to suffering either to ourselves or to others through our actions. Justice is a sense of fairness, understanding cause and effect, accepting the results you created, seeing how you often choose your situation and recognizing the action of karma.
These 4 attributes, prudence, courage, temperance and justice are known as the cardinal virtues and have been recorded since pagan times and probably spoken of for much longer, finding reference in the writings of Plato and Christianity. Sometimes you will see fortitude in place of courage which can be seen to be related, as they both imply effort and action, although fortitude suggests the practice of maintaining the effort rather than the initial bravery, without the initial step we are of course nowhere but sustaining a practice is vital.
But what of the other 3, after all this is an article on seven ways to love, not four, well within the ancient Greek and Roman traditions we hear of the 3 graces, goddesses of beauty and kindness and in the New testament we find further reference to the 3 heavenly graces.
Of course Grace is often associated with yoga and the first grace is HOPE, sometimes people are faced with times of blackness through poor physical or mental health and they cannot see a way out of their suffering. Yoga can give hope as it can be gentle enough for the most dilapidating of physical ailments such as ME (Chronic fatigue syndrome) and Crohn’s Disease, helping them on the slow journey to recovery, given them a starting point to work their way to wellness. It can be light at the end of a dark tunnel, showing the way out of a difficult situation.
Many people are turned off by some of the spiritual and religious elements of yoga and sometimes I question the authenticity and depth of understanding of some of the teachers but yoga in my opinion can be of benefit to people no matter their beliefs or FAITH. It is a proven system that has evolved over thousands of years that has given many people the ability to connect with their bodies, hence the name yoga, which means union, connecting the spirit and the body. Many people have FAITH and confidence in its ability to bring physical and mental wellness.
The final grace is referred to as CHARITY in the King James Bible but in many translations it is simply known as love, our final destination. Charity is now often associated with institutions whom we donate time and money, but it is a word that expresses giving and sharing.
I think the word love is more appropriate for not only should we give love to others we should also love ourselves, with yoga through practice we can find the grace to find a balanced way to LOVE.