Aligning and Promoting Values

At LYFE Yoga, our mission is to cultivate a community of shared values where everyone can participate and embark in a transformative journey of personal and collective discovery and growth. We draw our values from numerous ancient texts as the basis of our teaching and leadership style. Through these basic universal values, we strive to build social cohesion to manifest peace and well-being for all.

Values are beliefs that guide and motivate attitudes and behaviors. Often defined as ethics or principles, values help inform decisions on our chosen paths and navigate the complex world we live in. For businesses, political organizations or any group collective, the prominent use of values can become a bit murkier.

An organization’s value statements are often promoted publicly as being their foundational guides. Yet all too often the actions taken behind the scenes may fail to support those assertions. A company value proposition that demands “a culture of honesty and accountability” may also reflect some individual’s personal values, but these values need to be shared, acted on and championed by every member of the organization, from the very top all the way down through the ranks. 

For example, when we juxtapose Wells Fargo’s core guiding principle of “Do what’s right” against the actions they’ve taken in recent years, where they have been found guilty of creating false accounts in clients names to generate billion in fees – and then repeating this behavior again even after being found guilty – it seems foolish to suggest this stated value has any real meaning to the company. Even within the yoga industry, there have been unconscionable instances where yoga teachers used power, control, and/or intimidation to harm others. They crossed boundaries, violated trust, and neglected their responsibilities as a teacher, mentor and leader.

Group dynamics that are indifferent to promoted values pose troubling dangers and should be viewed as a warning. All value systems, no matter how utopian they appear on paper, are at risk of failure if not fully embraced and adhered to by each individual. Indifference to our professed values manifests universal mistrust, fear and otherness, which breaks down the social cohesion societies need to prosper and grow. 

How do we maintain social cohesion when events conflict with our values?

Many ancient texts feature specific universal values and the conflict inherent in remaining true to them as a prominent theme. These ancient texts can provide a rich foundation to help guide yoga practitioners and others alike. Only with open and inclusive dialogue, shared responsibility and, perhaps most important, accountability, can individuals and organizations truly be representative of any values.

Introducing Ancient Indian Texts

Three quintessential ancient Indian texts that promote shared universal values are Patañjali’s Yoga Sûtras, the Bhagavad Gītā, and The Rāmāyaṇa.

Patañjali’s Yoga Sûtras divides values into two categories that serve as the ethical principles guiding practitioners on their journey of self discovery. In the Bhagavad Gītā, the story of Arjuna and Kṛṣṇa takes place in the center of a battlefield, between family members and their respective armies. The dialogue that ensues sheds light on the internal challenges of upholding one’s values in difficult situations. The Rāmāyaṇa narrates the journey of a young prince, Rāmā, who must rescue his abducted wife. Throughout the narrative, Rāmā is aided by family and members of a global community who offer insights and right action to overcome difficult obstacles, while remaining true to a shared set of values.

By delving into these ancient texts, together, we can unveil the timeless wisdom of shared values in maintaining social cohesion in today’s world. These works offer valuable lessons on navigating life’s decisions while remaining aligned with our values and reveal how a diverse community practicing these shared values can uphold and cultivate social unity with compassion, humility and respect towards all living things.

Unveiling Values in the Yoga Sûtras

Patañjali’s Yoga Sûtras introduce the ethical principles of the Yāmas and the Niyāmas that form the foundation of yoga practice. The Yāmas are non-violence, truthfulness, non-stealing, restraint, and non-possessiveness. These values intend to guide students in their practice and interactions with others. The Niyāmas focus on personal observances. They include purity, contentment, self-discipline, self-study, and surrender to a higher power. These values encourage individuals to develop self-awareness, inner resolve, and a deep connection with their spiritual path.

Patañjali recognizes that we will consistently face conflicts to our principles but through study and practice we gain a deeper awareness of these universal values, allowing us to truly comprehend and internalize them. By living these values we can manifest a foundation for not only our personal practice but the community at large. By maintaining a consistent yoga practice, these principles begin to integrate into our daily lives and we begin to embody their subtle nature. As we come together in group practice, the community transforms into a cohesive whole where we can collectively uphold and support each other in promoting and aligning these shared universal beliefs.

Values and the Inner Conflict of The Bhagavad Gita

The Bhagavad Gītā presents a powerful narrative that explores the internal struggle faced by individuals when upholding universal values. The story revolves around Arjuna, a skilled warrior, and Kṛṣṇa, his charioteer, guide and the avatar of Viṣṇu.

Arjuna represents the best values of humanity and finds himself torn between duty and freedom. In an attempt to behave in a way that provides good karma and end the cycle of rebirth, Arjuna must act morally and ethically to lead a good life.

Together, Arjuna and Kṛṣṇa reveal the necessity of shared values through self-reflection, discernment, higher unity and the interconnectedness of everything. Individual bad actions lead to universal suffering while good actions lead to cosmic harmony. We can learn from each other, gain clarity and insight of our internal struggles, and transcend our differences through alignment of universal principles that ultimately promote freedom and well-being for all.

Universal Values and Advancing Social Cohesion in The Rāmāyaṇa

The Rāmāyaṇan offers valuable political insights when encountering group conflicts. The story follows the journey of Prince Rāmā, who embarks on a quest to rescue his wife after she is abducted by the ten-headed King Rāvaṇa.

Rāvaṇa’s heads symbolize internal conflicts representing the challenges we face in maintaining universal values. Despite being a knowledgeable scholar and attaining advanced yogic skills, Rāvaṇa’s actions came to belie his beliefs. While intellectually astute, his authoritarian rule was isolated and lacked an open, diverse community of individuals who could question his actions. His character serves as a cautionary example, reminding us of the importance of shared values that do not favor certain groups but instead embrace and promote social cohesion among all.

By studying the lessons of the Rāmāyaṇa, we can gain a deeper understanding of the obstacles that arise on our own journey and how, together, we can overcome them with determination and commitment to values that support all life. 

The Birth of Universal Values and the Impact of Accountability in Community

We each belong to many communities; each with their own set of values: professional, home, school, social, and yoga – just to name a few. Engaging in these communities allows the sharing of particular values while also gaining insights into how they impact ourselves and others. 

A diverse group of community members provides a broader perspective, giving each person the chance to take ownership of their actions and understand the importance of accountability – a cornerstone of any thriving community. Community engagement promotes social cohesion by aligning and enforcing shared values. When individuals can speak their truths, listen to differing opinions and receive support from a shared collective, all while holding themselves and each other accountable, the impact is profound and far-reaching. 

In this way, we can help and encourage one another to grow physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually, socially, professionally and personally. Together, we can create a safe space aligned with our values where we can reflect on choices made and actions taken to change what is no longer serving. This benefits everyone and contributes to the overall health and well-being of our community and beyond. Accountability in community helps us stay true to our intentions and commitments, strengthens our resolve to uphold universal values, and inspires us to continuously strive for personal and collective growth.

The Purpose of Social Posts

At LYFE yoga, we strive to remain true to the universal values depicted in these ancient texts, while creating a shared, inclusive space to openly engage these principles. This is of paramount importance. Having class is a way to practice and disseminate these beliefs. Social media provides an additional forum for everyone to witness our values while also providing highlights of what to expect from our classes. 

In the upcoming weeks, we plan to resume social media posts. Our intention behind this decision is to disseminate information that fosters our values of promoting a social cohesion where a diverse group of individuals can join in practice. Our aim is to support all life throughout our complex and seemingly chaotic narratives; providing shared spaces where our social posts, classes, events and retreats work in tandem to cultivate and actualize the embodied higher unity – one that values the personal and collective growth of all.