The Five Principles of Sivananda Yoga: Explain how does each principle affects and/or supports the other.
The five principles of Sivananda yoga are: right exercise, right breathing, right diet, right mind and meditation, and right relaxation. These five principles are closely interrelated and build upon one another. To me right exercise means regular asana practice (at least 6 days a week) that works all areas of the body including the cardiovascular system, lymphatic system, nervous system and muscular system. Yoga opens up my body and prepares it to receive the breath.
Right breath means that I’m breathing fully and evenly using my diaphragm not just the chest. I find it important for my breathing and for my mental state that I get fresh air every day, rain or shine. I try and walk several kilometres a day. Walking is a form of right exercise and also works my muscular and cardiovascular system. By walking outside I get plenty of fresh air to breath and my lungs feel clean after a walk. Walking can also be a form of meditation and right mind for me. I use the time when I’m walking to and from school to repeat mantras, sing chants and just clear and calm my mind. Meditation is also important for me calming and quieting my mind, and improving concentration. At this time in my practice I find it useful to have a point to meditation on, and that is often the breath. I do this by counting my breaths and practicing different forms of pranayama.
Through right diet the body is nourished for exercise. For me, right diet means following a vegetarian diet with only small amounts of dairy and sugars, no wheat or corn. I staying away from these foods that my body doesn’t digest well and chose whole ancient grains, beans, vegetables and fruits. Eating this way, I have more energy because my body doesn’t have to put so much into breaking down the foods that are difficult for it to digest. Right diet also means drinking plenty of water, often with lemon juice added, and herbal teas. Herbal teas help me to calm my mind for meditation and also to relax.
Right relaxation is the most difficult of the 5 principles for me. I tend to become wound up and anxious easily. I need to constantly remind myself to let my jaw and muscles of my neck and shoulders soften and relax. This tension is worst when I haven’t done enough yoga or had fresh air, when I eat too much sugar or caffeine, and my breathing is in my chest rather than full belly breathing. Through yoga, full yogic breathing, meditation and right diet I am able to assume a relaxed state more easily. Relaxation in turn helps my mind quite, my body be more open, and my body more able assimilate the nutritious food I eat.