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Yoga is the practice of merging all the disparate aspects of our being into one, unified essence. In fact, the word yoga in Sanskrit means union. When we experience yoga we experience our true nature, which is unbounded and unchanging. We can understand the true nature of our being through the Seven Spiritual Laws, as disseminated by Deepak Chopra.
The Law of Pure Potentiality
The first spiritual law is the law of Pure Potentiality. When we embody this principle, we understand that our essential nature is pure consciousness, the infinite source of everything that exists in the physical world. Since we are an inextricable part of the field of consciousness, we are also infinitely creative, unbounded, and eternal.
When we feel the pause between our breaths and the gap between our thoughts, we rest in the realm of all possibilities. When we become the silent witness of our sensations, images, feelings, and thoughts, we experience ourselves as pure potential.
The Law of Giving and Receiving
The second spiritual law is the Law of Giving Receiving. Giving and receiving are different expressions of the same flow of energy in the universe. Since the universe is in constant and dynamic exchange, we all need to both give and receive to keep abundance, love, and anything else you want circulating in your life. The simplest way to experience the flow of giving and receiving is through breathing.
Breath is a natural function of our nervous system that is replenishing, purifying, and regulating all at the same time. When we breathe in, we take in oxygen and prana, which is the life force energy that animates us. The oxygen feeds our cells, and the prana helps to revitalize our system. When we exhale, we release carbon dioxide and other toxins that are not serving us.
When we breathe in longer than we breathe out, it usually means we are feeling anxious and having a tough time letting go of things. When we breathe out longer than we breathe in, it usually means we are feeling unmotivated and having a tough time opening to new ideas. When the breath in and the breath out are balanced, it usually means we are flowing through life harmoniously.
The Law of Karma
The third spiritual law is the Law of Karma. The word karma in Sanskrit translates loosely to action. Every action generates a force of energy that returns to us in kind. When we choose actions that bring happiness and success to others, the fruit of our karma is happiness and success. The law of karma demonstrates the power of our actions and the impact they have on ourselves and others.
Our entire life is a collection of choices, both conscious and unconscious. Yoga is the practice of becoming aware of our actions so that we can be more aware of the choices we make in life. This is the driving force behind a life that is based on compassion, kindness, justice, and sustainability.
To put the law of karma into practice, we can start to bring awareness to the way we stand and the way we breathe. Notice how you are choosing to hold yourself up right now. Are you comfortable? Are you able to relax the parts of your body that do not need to work so hard? Are you able to create more structure where you might be less alert? Notice how the way you arrange your body affects the way you can be present in this moment. This, in turn, affects the way we can be present with others.
Similarly with breathing, this is one of the only few functions in our physiology that happens naturally but that we can also control. When we become aware of our breath, it changes the way that we breathe. The Law of Karma reminds us that we always have the power to change the way we breathe, which gives us the power to change the way we experience the present moment. And by consciously awakening to this moment; we can consciously awaken to each one that follows it.
The Law of Least Effort
The fourth spiritual law is the Law of Least Effort. You can most easily fulfill your desires when your actions are motivated by love, and when you expend the least effort by offering no resistance. In this way, you tap into the infinite organizing power of the universe to do less and accomplish more.
We put the law of least effort into practice when we experience savasana, or corpse pose. This pose is often practiced at the end of a yoga session because it teaches the art of surrender and how to move with the force of gravity. Throughout most of the day, many of us are fighting the force of gravity. It takes effort to hold ourselves up! But when we surrender to gravity, we bring the law of least effort into action. It is only when the body is fully rested that it can fully replenish and repair cells, tissues, and muscles. When we transition from the act of doing to the art of being we accomplish more by doing less.
The Law of Intention and Desire
The fifth spiritual law is the Law of Intention and Desire. It is said in one of the ancient yogic writings, known as the Upanishads, that “you are your deepest, driving desire. As is your desire, so is your will. As is your will, so is your deed. As is your deed, so is your destiny.” When we connect to our deepest, driving desires we connect to our subtle intention, or sankalpa. This is unique to each one of us, but we must become very still and quiet to access it.
We each have our own pulse of life, known as the gate (pronounced “gah-tay”) in Sanskrit. Encoded in your gate is your sankalpa: what you deeply, truly desire. Taking time every day to connect with your heart and asking yourself “What do I want?” will help you to get clear on a word or a phrase that resonates with your soul's truth. When that word surfaces it gives you a direction to move forward in serving your highest purpose.
The Law of Detachment
The sixth spiritual law is the Law of Detachment. At the spirit level, everything is always unfolding perfectly. You do not have to struggle or force situations to go your way. Instead, you can intend for everything to work out as it should, take action, and then allow opportunities to spontaneously emerge.
The law of detachment is the recognition that there is an infinite, organizing power that is orchestrating the evolutionary process. You are not the doer but the co-creator, and you do not have to attach to the outcome of your actions to validate your own self-worth. You simply need to awaken to the abundance that is available in this moment and trust that all is unfolding as it should be.
To experience this law, you can explore the breath, noticing if you are trying to force or control the breath in any way. When you can feel the breath being breathed – as if the breath is breathing you
– you experience the law of detachment. There is no right or wrong, no pass or fail, no good or bad. There is simply the perfection of this moment, and the intelligence of the universe moving through you.
The Law of Dharma
In Sanskrit, the word dharma means “right direction” and it relates to our purpose in life. We each have our own individual gifts that we are born into and by using them to serve others, we experience unlimited love, abundance, and true fulfillment in life.
We are 99.8% the same molecularly, but that 0.2% variation is what makes each one of us unique. There is no one else in the world who is exactly like you. You have your own fingerprint, your own anatomy, and your own constitution that affects the way that you present yourself to the world. That is your dharma.
To put the law of dharma into practice, take a stand, literally, by coming into tadasana – or mountain pose. Notice what it feels like to stand in your body as you are, without needing to change or fix anything. Feel the perfection of you at your essence, which brings you back to your unique purpose.
Embodying the Laws
The Bhagavad Gita defines yoga as “skill in action.” By integrating these laws into your yoga practice, you can become them rather than think them. As you take time to reflect on the Seven Spiritual Laws, allow a sense of joy, contentment, effortlessness, and purpose to infuse your being and remember their presence in all aspects of daily life.
Cultivate deep connection through the Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga in Journey to Well-being: Healthy Body, a seven-part series with Chopra’s Director of Yoga, Sarah Finger, available now in the Chopra App.