Saucha - purity
This refers not just to external cleanliness but also clean/pure attitude, mind and behaviour eg. physically (asana and diet), emotionally (breath awareness when stressed/tired/angry can break negative patterns of behaviour) and mentally (meditation helps deepen our Self awareness and gain control of our mind rather than allowing our perception and emotion to lead our mind). Saucha is when we cleanse our whole Self, letting go of impurities in body, mind and spirit, negative self talk and belief systems, the things that hold us back from being all that we can be. We can use awareness to watch our thoughts etc and change negative ways of thnking, acting, speaking.
Santosha - contentment
Rather than looking outside ourself and wanting what others have, look at what is infront of you in your life right now. What do you have, what can you do, what opportunities are there. Not what isn't. Not judging your Self and others and the universe. Accepting our Self and the universe as it is rather than having expectations and a perception of how it should be or how we would like it to be. Accepting where we are, what we are and what we have for what it is without being attached to dreams, desires & expectations. Letting go of these ideals and making choices around what is on offer without trying to change it. It is our attitude we change from negative to positive. We stop wanting and accumulating which frees us. We can still work towards growth and change yet accept where we are right now.
Tapas - self discipline
This can be interpreted as how much energy and fire we are prepared to put in to our goal. The will-power and fire that will burn up any obstacle in our way. It is what motivates us to put in the ongoing commitment/effort towards a purpose which the sankalpa (positive affirmation) helps us achieve. We will still have ups and downs but the regular effort will lead us on the right path towards our goal and so there will be less suffering. Remember what you want and set out steps to get there and keep revising to keep you on your path.
Svadhyana - self-study
Learning about our strengths, weaknesses, needs and what motivates us. Finding out patterns of behaviour and turning them into positive patterns so our weaknesses become strengths. Sometimes we don't like what we see, it can be challenging to realise yet important to accept our Self 'warts and all' is what we need to do to manage these weaknesses without allowing them to trip us up. When we 'see' our weaknesses, they loose their power over us. As we become more Self-accepting we judge our Self and others less and find our hearts opening up. It is hard but also exciting to become aware of our weaknesses and what holds us back because once we see our weaknesses we can start to rebuild neural pathways and turn them into strengths and grow! This is where transformation begins. It takes effort and regular practice so keep going.
Ishvara-pranidhana - surrender
Letting go of trying to control life, where we end up and the end result. Not always looking for the fruits of our actions but being present and mindful and taking each step at a time and responding with awareness. By surrendering to the journey we are in the present and still able to choose our response to a situation we are faced with. We operate out of a place of truth rather than being led by emotion and lower thinking mind. By being increasingly present and aware, we are trusting that this path will lead us to where we need to be rather than towards where we think want to be. Expressing our Self through the journey and trusting that this will lead us to fulfilling our purpose and living a full life towards achieving our potential. Having faith in our Self and that there is something greater than our current life experience.
Yoga helps us to move towards these aspirations without being too hard on ourself and trying to go from A-Z too quickly. It is not about perfection. Everything in moderation, don't be too hard on yourself - which is why this is under love and laughter - it's not about self-flaggelation (beating ourself up for not being perfect)! It's about moving forward on your journey and purifying along the way even if occasionally we take a step or two back! Om on Ozzie, om on!