The Six Pillars of Yoga: Foundations for Mindful Living | By Jodi Christensen and Molly McManus

Last Updated: May 15, 2018By

Based upon principles from the Yoga Sutras, The Six Pillars of Yogic Living are 6 simple lifestyle and wellness practices that affect the amount and quality of energy in our minds and bodies. They can help us turn toward a healthier and more resilient life.

In a time when we are inundated with information, products, and new practices, turning toward ancient wisdom that is practical and has stood the test of time can help cut through the noise. If a distracted mind is not able or fit to turn inward for the practices of meditation and self-awareness, how then can we continue on the yogic path? Rather than looking to advanced asana alone to progress, we should use the Six Pillars as a basic foundation of all our practices. The Six Pillars provide guidelines for wellness, which in turn fosters more physical and mental energy we can devote to our physical practice.  Examine the simple yet impactful practices below and consider how you can incorporate them into your life.

1. Right Food

  • Quality/freshness of food – seasonal considerations
  • Appreciation of nourishment
  • Regular mealtimes in a relaxing environment

2. Right Movement

  • Daily body awareness practices
  • Consider what will keep you in balance daily, seasonally, etc.

3. Right Sleep

  • Regular bed and wake time
  • Pre-bedtime routine
  • The state in which we fall asleep is the state in which we will wake
  • Proper amount of sleep

4. Cleansing

  • Drink water
  • Use neti pot and tongue scraper
  • Good hygiene and body nourishing habits
  • Meditation or quiet time to cleanse the mind

5. Breathing & Stress Management

  • Relaxed breathing
  • Examine what creates stress and relieves stress in your life

6.Self-Awareness & Self-Reflection

  • Mindfulness and compassion helps us make more informed decisions about our thoughts, beliefs, actions, and behavior
  • Understand your personal belief system and live your life according to it
  • Develop a relationship with your higher self
  • Practice connection and expansion rather than isolation and contraction
  • Practice compassion and gratitude
  • Journal, create art or find some way to document your journey


This article was written by Jodi Christensen, C-IAYT, E-RYT500, CSE, AYS and Molly McManus, C-IATY, E-RYT500, SE, AHC. Both teach at Yoga North International SomaYoga Institute in Duluth.


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