We are winding down the series on the Yamas and Niyamas. May  the pearls of wisdom received along the way remain with you; may we reflect together on the poignant take aways. Throughout these weeks of revisiting this part of the 8 Limbed Path, it has become obvious that everyone can teach us something. Swami Kripalu taught that we need only focus on one of these (yamas, niyamas) to create lasting change and to deepen our practice. One surprising teacher for me through this series has been our puppy Tucker.  As they say, everyone is your teacher.  He has humbled me, challenged me, delighted me, and helped me to return to practice ……

A favorite book, chewed by my teacher

Ahimsa or non-violence: When he chewed the binding of one of my favorite books (following the destruction of 2 or 3 house plants), he reminded me of non-violence. I wanted to give him away in that moment. 

Satya or truthfulness:  He is who he is. Tucker is the master of truthfulness. No matter what he has gotten into, it is literally all over his face. Ahhh the fun of having a white(ish) dog when you live out in the woods. No commentary or excuses, he is who he is. I can certainly use his help with this.

Asteya or non stealing: He may borrow things and bury them, but he is always good at giving it back. Namely, branches, tennis balls, and socks. He is transparent in how he uses his energy… there is no need to guess.

Brahmacarya or moderation: Since all things are meant to be eaten, chewed and enjoyed, Tucker automatically stops when he is satiated; no emotional need to over eat or drink.  He sleeps when tired and runs when he’s energetic. No guilt, no back story required. Hmmm.

Aparigraha or non-hoarding: Tucker has been my mirror for this Yama. He hoards squeaky toys and sticks; I hoard boxes of teas and books (among other things).

Saucha or purity: As a puppy, he can’t help but be pure and innocent. Watching him follow crickets or frogs with his undivided attention had a purifying affect on me too.

Content with the ordinary…

Santosha or contentment: Tucker is the perfect role model for santosha. He finds contentment no matter where he is… in the rain, on the porch, in the car, or out on a walk. 

Tapas or self-discipline, zeal: Puppies are naturally ‘in the moment’ with enthusiasm.   Whether it’s gnawing on his chew toy or chasing chipmunks in the woods, he goes with all his effort.

Swadhyaya or self-study: Not really sure with this one for Tucker since I can’t really get into his head. For me, being the observer of my own actions (and his) and delving in to sacred texts for guidance is always fruitful. I suspect a more conscious me, makes a happier dog.

Ishvara-pranidhana or devotion to a higher power: Again, I can’t rely too much on the puppy here. However, my own surrender to God and to the Universe has always informed my teaching. My intention to invite something more sacred than my own anxious thoughts is the real yoga for me.

May you find the teachers in your life and continue to dance with the Eight-Limbed Path of yoga. Namaste!