In this paper, you will learn how the classical text of Ramayana has influenced my life and my yoga practice. I will discuss this text’s core principles and teachings concerning historical context and its contemporary application today. I will describe how the teachings in this text have influenced my role as a Yoga Therapist and how it applies to my clients. Ramayana gives insights into how to live our various dharmas and ethical standards at times of mental turmoil. It teaches us lessons of mortality and is a guide for righteous living. Ramayana inspires old and young and cuts across all barriers such as income levels, cultures, and religions worldwide. The Ramayana story retold by William Buck speaks to me. (Buck, 1976)
Ramayana was originally written in Sanskrit in the tradition of Vedas. The story is about the romance of Rama and the Court and the struggle of good over evil. It contains twenty-four thousand couplets (verses). Vedas wrote these verses in thirty-two syllable meters called sloka (two-line verses with sixteen syllables each). The meter is called anustup; chapters are called sargas, and books are called kandas (of which there are seven). Each phrase of the story is connected to the next phase. This text dates back to 880,000 BCE (Before Common Era or Christian Era). (Anonymous, “Ancient World History”)
The most important lesson that Ramayana teaches us is the relationship between Dharma, Artha, Kama, and Moksha. Ultimately we are striving for Moksha. If we follow our Dharma, we will obtain Moksha; however, Artha and the Kama muddy our ways as we lean toward excess or scarcity in these categories rather than defining what is enough to fulfill our Dharma. I love how Rod Stryker describes the four desires. He says: Dharma, in simple terms, is the drive to achieve your potential, you might also think of it as your duty (daughter, sister, etc.); Artha refers to material resources that will help you fulfill your Dharma; the Kama is the desire for pleasures of all kinds and Moksha is the longing for liberation and true freedom. (Stryker, 2011, pp. 20-23)
Ramayana is relevant more than ever in our modern society. Ramayana can be used as a set of values or a code of conduct in loving our individual life, our family life, our career, and how to connect with others in society. The young can learn from their mentors/ elders about wisdom in practicing the lessons taught in Ramayana. Currently, in our society, I see an undertone of solitary accomplishments being a metric of success. Success is equated to worthiness, yet we are born worthy, and unity is a success. Relationships are being based on economy and greed instead of love, honesty, and loyalty. Think of your hand for a moment.
What if each finger did its own thing? How much can you accomplish with one finger? When all five units work together, what can you accomplish then? We have teens who don’t heed parental advice and parents that aren’t concerned with their teen’s future. We have students that don’t respect teachers and teachers who don’t impart wisdom to students. We are one. We breathe the same air, drink the same water, and put our pants on the same way. Unity is diversity. We must all do our work to understand ourselves better to be at peace for the world to be at peace. One of my character strengths is my love of learning. I remind myself every day to take my acquired book knowledge and put it into practical knowledge to live by. “Ramayana is more than just a story. It assimilates principles of science and psychology within its broader fold of spirituality and wisdom, and this affords an all-inclusive solution.” –Dr. Ramesh Kumar Gupta
How do we preserve our values? We are busy working hard to achieve individual success through greed and disregard for family, spouses, friendships, and fortunes. We have lost sight of what is truly important; unity, connection, loyalty, family, higher power, purpose, and love. “Spirituality destroys narrow-mindedness and confers unity, cooperation, and universal peace.” ~Sai Darshan Pressures to perform deteriorate our life. Without connection and spirituality, we end up losing ourselves and our happiness. (Gupta)
Rama said in the second battle episode of the siege of Lanka: Vibhishanal! Self-confidence is my chariot, and my courage and patience are its wheels. Truth and character are my flags, while my strength, knowledge and self-control, and goodwill are the four horses of my chariot. Forgiveness and uniform behavior are the ropes used to tie these horses. Faith in God is my charioteer, while contentment and charity is my sword and ax, respectively. My principles are my arrows. Devotion to the Brahmana’s and my preceptor is my impenetrable amour. What other means of victory can one crave? (Bhanot, 1992, p. 12)
My life and work are filled with love and through the life lessons of Ramayana. I can inspire myself and others to heal through movement. The fourteen lessons that Ramayana teaches us and I apply in my profession as a Yoga Therapist are:
If I return to my soul’s dharma code, I can relinquish my excess of wants in materialism and sense pleasures. I have dharmas or duties to carry out through other roles such as being a wife, daughter, friend, aunt, Yoga Therapist, etc. Working through my four desires and developing clarity on my soul’s dharma code has helped me stay grounded as a Yoga Therapist while guiding my clients in finding clarity for themselves.
Ramayana’s lesson of being married to one partner in our life is built on long-term, meaningful relationships that are loyal and respectful of both parties. I like this quote by Kabbalah “We all come to this world as half a soul; we stumble about in this existence, trying other halves, preparing for the day when we will meet our kindred spirit. That’s when life begins, that’s when it picks up speed and starts to flow, and we can cast off. But we can’t meet that kindred spirit unless we discover our mission in life first.” It reminds me to do my work so others can do their work as well. Relationships are not perfect. They require growth, forgiveness, and compassion, especially after the affinity fades and the relationship changes into something that isn’t as new. Relationships are a living, moving piece of art that is constantly seeking balance and harmony. Having boundaries for myself and as a Yoga Therapist, it allows me to have compassion and empathy. Happiness is obtained from the inside, not from the outside.
If we take our time and speak our truth, we keep our promises and honor ourselves and others. As a Yoga Therapist, I use my tools from Marshal Rosenberg (Psychologist and creator of nonviolent communication) and speak in a nonviolent style and honor the profession and me. This may be at times saying, “I don’t know, I’m struggling with that myself, I feel this professional would be more helpful, I can’t fix, but I can guide you to finding a more comfortable space if you are willing to do the work.”
My duty as a pioneer in this field is to be respectful of the client in front of me, to my peers and those coming behind me, and remind myself of my detachment challenges without disappointment. Reminding myself to stay in a professional role rather than a friendship role with my clients so that they can detach as a celebration of how far they have come without disappointment.
Not to listen to pointless and useless stories of my life, vicious rumors. It reminds me that my personality or way of healing may not be suitable for everyone. It is okay to excuse myself from a relationship with a client if I feel it isn’t providing healing for the client and a strain on my energy level. There are many needing guidance.
Not to accept valuable goods or presents from anyone, as this does the service of Yoga Therapy an injustice. A fair wage for the session provided is enough. I always tell my clients the greatest gift you can give me is to heal yourself and then share your story, tell others about this service and then invite them to start their work.
Sometimes things come to you in disguise and to try and not get swayed by suspect attractions. Follow my gut and trust my intuition. As a Yoga Therapist, I can always ask curious questions to understand things better and see if I’m feeling the client’s truth.
I always try to speak mindfully and think before I say, and my findings as a Yoga Therapist should be just that. My words could cause the client harm. They don’t need to know all of my assessment findings right from the start, as they usually come to me wounded from a trauma of some sort. I want to create trust, a safe place emotionally and physically- then I guide them through self-discovery and healing layers as they are ready and ask for the knowledge and specifics.
All people have value and deserve to be treated fairly. No one deserves to be part of a violent act, whether verbal or physical or be the subject of cruelty or bullying behavior. As a Yoga therapist, I always lay out the expectations of what I agree to bring to each session and what I ask my client to get to each session. It sets a boundary and a tone of what to expect during our times together.
My life and work are filled with love that moves people to heal; I am light in a dark world. I believe love exceeds all barriers. As a Yoga Therapist (I ask first), I always hug my clients on the way out. Hugs are healing, and so many times, I am the only loving touch they received all day. Vitamin L (love) is what will heal the world.
As a Yoga Therapist, I am only their guide on this great adventure of theirs. They have to do all the work. I’m humbled and honored that they chose me to guide them.
We are wired for connection, belonging, and friendships. As a Yoga Therapist, I create times where there is a sense of community at the studio. A place where like-minded individuals can go, belong, and You can make friendships. The connections here have a significant impact on our local community.
Those that have the biggest bark, the most challenging exterior, the souls that hurt others are the ones that need help the most. On the inside, they want to love, connect, and belong more than anyone. I pray daily for the strength to be given to me, for the wisdom to ask the right question that will help them heal.
As a Yoga Therapist, I hold myself to high standards; others say they are impossible standards. At times I have to jump into the middle of a fire to set a higher standard. As a teacher, I guide my clients to lean into their fears to find calm waters and to develop a standard for themselves and role model it to others
Ancient World History. (2012, July 22). Retrieved October 19, 2015.
Bhanot, T. (Ed.). (1992). Ramayana: Part 9: Battle episode 2. (p. 12). Nai Sarak, Delhi: Dreamland Publications.
Buck, W. (1976). Ramayana: King Rama’s way (35th ed.). Berkeley, California: University of California Press.
Gupta, R. (2011, April 4). Ramayan for our daily lives – The Times of India. Retrieved October 19, 2015.
Stryker, R. (2011). For the purpose of the soul. In The four desires: Creating a life of purpose, happiness, prosperity, and freedom (pp. 20-23). New York: Delacorte Press.