Updated: Sep 20, 2020
How can yoga relate to our lives?
We go to a yoga class. We stretch, we bend, we twist, maybe do a balance pose or an inversion and wow! We're doing Yoga! But are we? My teacher said to me..
‘The beauty of the asana is in your attitude to how you’re doing it and how it’s changing your life'
Jeenal, Wise Yoga Living
Yoga and the bhavas
Bhava is a Sanskrit word which means feeling or attitude. Yoga speaks of four bhavas - dharma (duty, essence) jnana (body intelligence, balance) vairagya (surrender/release) and aishwarya (confidence/will-power).
Any strong asana (postures) class will bring together elements from all four bhavas to guide you through a holistic experience and bring you to a balanced place in body and mind. But if you look around, you'll also see all four elements interweaving, forever changing and evolving and dancing around you, all of the time.
The feelings and attitudes associated with each bhava can be cultivated at any time of the day in any activity that you are doing, but there are also different asanas that we can apply the bhavas to as well. Understanding them can help you get even more out of your yoga practice.
What do the bhavas look like in practice?
Every asana is associated with one of the four bhavas. For example, holding a meditative easy cross legged posture, sukhasana, can cultivate feelings of duty, connecting to your inner being, or your intrinsic essence - dharma. Or exhale into a deep and slow foreword-fold, hastapadasana, and connect to a strong sense of humility, surrendering and releasing further with every exhale - vairagya. Balance and twists develop body awareness and strength through jnana, and backbends stimulate feelings of confidence, will-power and strength, aishwarya.
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Carrie is a co-founder of The Frog Project, yoga teacher, and full time stay at home mum to two smalls. When she's not playing with the kids or practicing yoga, you'll likely find her in the middle of her veg patch, trowel in hand and covered in mud. She loves the outdoors, and would camp every night given the chance. She and her partner in crime, Martin, set up The Frog Project with the aim of bringing classical yoga to all, and deliver live online classes with a group of dedicated teachers, to students of all experiences, ages, shapes, sizes, jobs, lives, you name it, from all around the world. Join them now and get 15 days of free unlimited classes. It's just yoga.