Buddhism and yoga have been closely tied for centuries. Each teaches a lifestyle of simplicity, compassion, and removal of barriers we place in front of ourselves that block happiness. It’s hard to study one without feeling the need to also investigate the other. Whatever your religion, there is much to learn from these two traditions about life and living, starting with the 4 Noble Truths:
The Truth of Suffering
Buddhism teaches that there are unavoidable sufferings that we encounter in our lives, both physical and mental. These can manifests in 7 different ways: birth, old age, sickness, death, separation from loved ones, contact with people we dislike, and frustration that arises from desires. This suffering is necessary, but it does not mean that happiness is impossible. It just doesn’t last forever – but then again nothing does!
Yoga is a very challenging activity. It’s supposed to be – that’s what makes it so rewarding! Through yoga, we learn to work through the “suffering” (soreness, fatigue, the occasional frustration when we are learning a new pose) and find that it is the difficulty that leads us to become stronger yogis.
(Yoga can be used to work through many problems and you can do it while dressing well. Click here to shop yoga leggings.)
The Truth of the Cause of Suffering
The need for more permeates our society, and it makes us think we have to have everything we can see or dream up. Whether they be material goods, careers, or sensory pleasures, our desires are the root of our suffering. Basically, we are searching for satisfaction in all the wrong places.
Desires can even arise in the practice of yoga. When we desire to achieve the perfect handstand or are busy worrying about what everyone else in the class is wearing, or compare our skill level with that of others, we take away from the true meaning of yoga. Happiness doesn’t come from just doing yoga; it comes from the lessons we learn on our personal yogi journey.
The Truth of the End of Suffering
Since we now know the cause of suffering, we can figure out how to end it. We must remove all desire from our lives because of any desire, even seemingly innocent ones, block us from feeling content. We think that we are incapable of being at peace until we have what we want, but our desires seldom end at just one.
Yoga teaches us how to master our minds, which is where desires arise. When we control our thoughts, we stop desire at the source. We also learn simplicity – the art of living only with what we truly need. Material gains are not what makes us whole, nor are our accomplishments. Yoga shows us how to look within and find what we are searching for there.
The Truth of the Path that Leads to the End of Suffering
In Buddhism, the path that leads to the end of suffering is the Middle Way. This involves eight key practices that, when incorporated into your life, lead to Enlightenment. These eight practices are Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, Right Concentration, Right Attitude, and Right View. Buddhism essentially teaches a way of living that brings you wisdom, happiness, and removes all suffering.
Yoga too is a lifestyle. When we practice yoga we are encouraged to meditate, eat right, think positive thoughts, and develop compassion for all beings. It’s difficult to incorporate yoga into your life without also adopting these practices because they just fit. It seems right to alter your lifestyle once you’ve experienced the extraordinary benefits yoga has to offer.