The third article in this series, we are discussing concepts related specifically to routine and lifestyle. You can access links to all the articles discussing Yogic concepts in this article. Yoga is not just about exercise or breath control but is a guide for various aspects of daily life as well; it is an entire way of life. Although these concepts may often feel like very lofty concepts, it is possible to bring them into the context of our lives today to understand their relevance.
What is Āchāra?
As always, we will first explore dictionary meanings of the word before we delve into the Yogic aspects of the term. Just like a lot of other Sanskrit words, Āchāra is often used in many Indian languages and the word retains its meaning in most of the everyday usage. If you speak or understand any Indian language, this word will probably be familiar to you.
Here are some meanings of the word Āchāra:
- Custom, practice
- Good behaviour
- Established rules of conduct
In most languages that have adopted this word, the meaning remains more or less the same. Now, let us explore what Āchāra means in the Yogic context.
Āchāra in Yoga
Yoga takes up the meaning of the word from Sanskrit and adds a little more to it. Ancient Indian scripture gives us lots of direction on the way we should live to ensure a healthy, contented life full of experiences. There are many concepts as well, some of which we have discussed here on the blog, that can help us lead a purposeful life. Yoga takes all of this wonderful knowledge and gives us the concept of Āchāra.
Āchāra in Yoga talks about routine and the importance of having a routine for ourselves. It does not give us a routine but gives a general direction on what a good routine can look like for us. There are a few major pointers we get for our lives:
- Regular exercise and physical movement of some kind – Āsana, walking, chores, sport activities, any kind of physical movement that keeps us from being sedentary
- Timely meals – Eating regularly, not skipping meals, eating at the same time as often as possible, and establishing a food routine that works for our schedule
- Set daily routine – Waking up and sleeping at a set time as often as possible, timely meals, regular exercise, time for hobbies and relaxing activities
- Adequate sleep – Getting adequate, deep, undisturbed sleep every single night, sleeping and waking up at regular times as often as possible
If you think about this, many of us have probably been told all of this at some point of time by our parents, teachers, or other elders. I am often told by my family that the reason the older people in the family are still relatively healthy and self-reliant is possibly because they have lived very disciplined lives, eaten the right food, and been physically active because of all the work they used to do and probably still do; I believe them and strongly believe the kind of lives people led maybe a 60 or 100 years ago was often way healthier than we do today.
We could use this guidance to build a routine for ourselves that makes sense with our work and other commitments and helps us eat, sleep, exercise on time, take time out for ourselves. Sorting out our routine can go a long way in reducing the chances of being affected by a number of lifestyle disorders. It can ensure that we are doing our best to maintain our health while living a full life.
Having a set routine that is also flexible when required removes unnecessary thought we have to put in daily on the things that need to be done; we can focus on the tasks themselves and give them our full attention and energy. Sleeping and eating well gives us the energy required to get through long days without feeling drained at the end of the day. Wouldn’t that be a great way to live?