There are many different reasons to practice yoga – for health and wellness, as a means of stress relief, or as a larger part of a spiritual belief system and path for your life. In Living Love: The Yoga of Yama and Niyama, author Maetreyii Ma takes readers on a journey through the self, blending yogic philosophy with practical techniques to help increase happiness, energy and personal power.
For some people, the way that many yoga enthusiasts speak can come across as irritatingly enlightened or even condescending, so it can be an extra delicate line to navigate as an author. Those whose lives have been changed by yoga want to share the experience with others, but it can often seem holier than thou. Ma, however, does an excellent job sharing stories and experiences, as well as expounding wisdom in poetic and therapeutic ways, without browbeating readers with overly heady or intangible metaphors. The ability to transform spiritual or celestial concepts into tangible practices and useful wisdom is a powerful skill for a writer, but given that Ma doubles as a psychologist and a yogic philosophy teacher, her mastery of the right language comes as no surprise.
This is also a book that extends far beyond yogic practice, spreading the mindfulness and awareness from yoga to the rest of your life. It advises on how to handle negative thought patterns and energy, suggests things to do to gradually transform your life in a healthy way, and holds up a mirror to personal failings so readers can honestly assess themselves. It is easy to forget that yoga is also a belief and a lifestyle, not just a fitness fad, and this book reminds readers of that in a myriad of insightful ways. It is never too late to establish a code of ethics, or begin to live your life based on simpler disciplines and ideals.
Purely as a writer, Ma also shines, expressing her ideas with passion, without ever pushing into the realm of zealotry. Her extensive experience as a yoga professional is clear, and her thoughts are confidently expressed and logical. This book celebrates a way of thinking that she herself has clearly practiced for a long time, and that familiarity is wildly apparent in the text.
The order of the sections, stories and anecdotes makes perfect sense, gradually moving from basic instruction and broad philosophy to complex thought processes and unique strategies to unlock happiness on a long-term basis. If you want to approach this book as an academic, to study the practices and sutras, or meditate on the prayers and mantras, it is an easily digestible and functional guidebook. However, if you want to loosen the strictures of your mind and free your spirit, you can also read the book slowly, like poetry, and it can have a similarly enlightening effect.
This is a great read for someone looking to unlock a new side of themselves, or tap into an energetic new perspective on life. Written with love and supported by a lifetime of knowledge and personal experience, Living Love: The Yoga of Yama and Niyama is one of those special books that will stay with you, occasionally nudging your mind and behavior in certain ways, and bringing you inevitably closer to lightness and joy, if you’re willing to take the journey.