A spiritual guidebook explains basic tenets of yogic philosophy and how they can be integrated into everyday routines.
In this book, the search for happiness is characterized as “the greatest adventure of human life.” And the way to begin that hunt is to commit to the practices of Yama and Niyama, the first two “limbs” of the eightfold path of Ashtanga Yoga. Yama centers on avoiding actions that derail the mystical journey and cause harm to others, like lying or theft. By contrast, Niyama aims to foster serenity and a deeper connection to eternal truths through study and self-discipline. The text explores the qualities of love, mercy, appreciation, and empathy. It offers insights such as “Having compassion for living beings, their pain and the harsh actions that come from their pain, is the root of forgiveness” and “Loving yourself is essential because it is by loving your own self that you become able to love others.” Understanding the causes of conflict and violence, reconciling clashes between instincts and ethics, and learning how to deal with negative judgments are other topics, along with behavioral exercises to help readers incorporate the instructions into their lives. In this well-written guide, Ma (Feminine Mysticism, 2014, etc.), a licensed clinical psychologist as well as a teacher, deftly examines the structure of society, including how survival-based fears drive many of humanity’s most destructive deeds against itself. The concepts she lucidly explains have a universal quality, with echoes in the ideological principles of major religions like Christianity and Islam. A glossary at the back of the book is helpful, though the Sanskrit terms used throughout the text may be unfamiliar and off-putting to some readers. Getting the most out of this valuable guide requires personal self-examination and a willingness to consider fundamental yet simple lifestyle changes, such as showing gratitude and committing to performing a daily selfless act of service to another.
Kind, wise, and reflective of timeless truths, this yoga manual merits careful reading and rereading.