How to Express Yoga with the 18 ITIES (part 1)
Expressing yoga and practicing yoga are two completely different things. We must learn to express yoga whenever we are not practicing it. The 18 ITIES of Swami Sivananda serve as a foundation, which can make us express yoga in thought, speech and action and turn us into true yogis.
Expressive Yoga is a lifestyle; it is a commitment to expressing yoga within every one of our actions. In this kind of yoga, our awareness pervades our attitude at all times and enables us to experience joy, peace and greater creativity.
The aim of yoga is not to isolate ourselves from the world; it is to get involved with the world intensely. However, this requires a certain amount of self-training.
In order to succeed, we must learn how to manage our actions and reactions. Once the mind has been reconditioned in this way, the transformation becomes as great as that of a caterpillar becoming a butterfly.
Is Expressive Yoga compatible with our current yoga practice?
Expressing yoga does not mean we stop our regular practices of yoga. Our daily practices continue, but we must learn to express yoga whenever we are not practicing it.
The aim of a true yogi is to either express yoga, or practice yoga at all times.
How do we Express Yoga?
Expressing yoga starts by the cultivation of certain fundamental virtues, which will be the foundation to a successful, vibrant and positive life. When we develop these virtues, our conditioned minds undergo a drastic change; tranforming our perception, our personality and our abilities.
Expressive yoga is best practiced by Swami Sivananda’s 18 ITIES, which describe the virtues one should cultivate to completely change one’s state of mind and life direction.
When do we practice the ITIES?
It is recommended we start with one ITY at a time, and practice it at all times for a certain period of time. That time can be a few weeks, a month, or whatever timeframe we need to practice the ITY adequately. Even if we fail sometimes, it doesn’t matter, we must practice it until we are comfortable with the practice and then add another.
The 18 ITIES
Serenity, Regularity, Absence of Vanity
Sincerity, Simplicity, Veracity
Equanimity, Fixity, Non-Irritability
Adaptability, Humility, Tenacity
Integrity, Nobility, Magnanimity
Charity, Generosity, Purity
Serenity is the feeling of deep inner peace. Generally, we are at peace when we feel content, when everything works out the way we wanted it to. But what happens when everything doesn’t go as planned? We become disturbed. Distress and anxiety arise in the form of negative emotions (anger, greed, hate, etc.) when our desires, expectations and ambitions are unfulfilled.
So how do we find and maintain serenity? Serenity arises from detachment.
We must let go of our desires, by understanding that whatever we want is only due to the constructs of our mind. This does not mean we don’t work towards our goals. It only means that we don’t become attached to our work, and we don’t concern ourselves with the results.
We must remain calm at all times, and allow our inner peace and joy to radiate outwards. Serenity is like the surface of a still lake.
Only by regular and constant practice can we become great at anything. “Practice makes perfect”; we must build a strong and stable foundation before we are able to achieve anything in life. Stability is a key factor to success. By regulating our actions and activities, we in turn stabilize our life and our mind.
We must maintain a certain timeliness in our daily activities. Ensure everything is done at the same time, including sleeping patterns, eating habits and so on. This grants freedom from worries, fear and anxiety, and enables us to do the right thing at the right time.
3. Absence of Vanity
We express vanity at all times, because we project ourselves as a version that isn’t natural. We keep trying to create an impression, and in the process we express vanity in simple and complicated ways. Vanity makes us unconfident or overconfident, both of which lead to failure. The best way to combat vanity and failure, is to practice humility at all times.
To cultivate humility, we must never boast about our qualities, qualification or achievements. We must praise others and identify virtues in all people; treating all people as equals.
Sincerity stems from innocence and purity; it is an expression of a natural personality. We must be sincere to ourselves and to others, which develops honesty and righteousness. To be sincere is to be truthful; to let our words, thoughts and actions agree with one another. Sincerity will bring us harmony and peace of mind.
The practice of simplicity helps us get rid of all the material and mental baggage we carry around with us. Simplicity helps us combat possessiveness and greed. Simplicity should manifest in our speech, our attire, our food, etc. We must look into our drawers and wardrobes and offload or donate all that we don’t need.
In terms of emotional baggage, we have to introspect and visualise the emotional baggage we are carrying with us. We must find those emotions related to an important life experience, and we must analyse if they are still important to us. If they are no longer relevant we must let go of them and value whatever lessons we received through them. If we want to have an uncomplicated life, we must first become uncomplicated ourselves.