Living Our Yoga and the Four Agreements

What does it mean to live our yoga?

The word yoga means union - of body, mind, and spirit. And perhaps no one lives her yoga - that is - walks the walk and the talk - as much as Desiree Rumbaugh.

I've had the pleasure to study with Desiree every year since since 1999. And every year, I come away with an insight that enriches my practice, but most importantly my life - for the rest of the year and beyond that.

Last night, Desiree began our practice by sharing her insights on The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom by Don Miguel Ruiz. She came upon the book during a particularly trying time in her life, and decided she would work on them.

While we sat in a circle, Desiree reminded us that yoga is more than what we do on the mat. It is ultimately, a way of life.

Our yoga must be evident in the way we talk - and how we treat others - even in how and what we write. In a world of emails and instant communication, this gave me pause for thought, most especially against the back drop of what has happened in my yoga community in recent months.

Des also noted, that when we open in our bodies - there is cooperation between the body and the mind - but that we must take this further - so that this opening is experienced in our relationship with others. That is true yoga.

She then shared the Four Agreements and a few insights with each of them, that I will attempt to summarize here.

The First Agreement is:
Be impeccable with your words.

What does this mean and what does it imply? It means to speak with integrity and to say only what you mean. But most importantly it demands of us to use the power of our words for truth and love...


I think if I could truly work towards just this one thing - it could transform everything in my life!

Furthermore, Des reminded us - that if we have compassion, our yoga is working. Instead of being vengeful, we can choose to be another way. We don't have to make other people wrong, in order for us to feel right. The practice of yoga helps us to shift our perspective...

The Second Agreement is:
Don't take anything personally.

Nothing others do is because of you - it's s projection of their own reality - and not yours. When you are mindful of this - you don't suffer.

Des quoted Byron Katie who often says - what others think of me - is none of my business.

The Third Agreement is:
Don't make assumptions.

Find the courage to ask the questions you really want to ask. With this one agreement, we have the ability to transform our lives. And, we should remember, that in the end, what goes around comes around...

The Fourth Agreement is:
Always do your best.

What we do - can change from moment to moment. We should remember to walk a mile in another's shoe before we judge them.

Des also reminded us to feel stronger in the inside - and softer on the outside in our practice. And of course, as with everything, this should translate into our lives. If we do this - we will be able to take on what life throws at us, and let it roll off of our backs.

That is not to say that this will be easy - but only that we have the skills to live our yoga - and to become the best possible human beings that we can be.

We creatively moved into a deep and delicious practice of hip openers afterwards, and I felt better than I had in years.

Just this week, I had been contemplating quitting yoga altogether - practicing, teaching - all of it. That's how upset I have been by what I am witnessing all around me.

What I learned tonight is, yoga is not finished with me yet. And it took an angel like Desiree - truly a safe harbor - to make me realize that!


Susan D. said…
Yoga is definitely not done with you, Olga! :) Thank you for this inspiring post. I'd been meaning to read the Four Agreements for years and finally picked it up about six months ago. I appreciate this reminder to try to LIVE the big "agreements" in that amazingly powerful little book.
Olga Rasmussen said…

Thanks for that reminder Susan! You are so very right!

Blessings to you,
Anonymous said…
A second person of "meaning to read" category herewith self-identifies.

So, what is in the foreground here is that things have been up-turned, you were close to quitting practice and DR was able to touch and teach some more. But for your distress some, I enjoyed the joyful story. I am not much touched by DR--- one physical adjustment, one many-people class. :-) I do appreciate/embrace the how much she does. It's uplifting to be aware of, hope you're able to stay close with her for awhile.

In the background, thanks for the Cliff-notes summary of Four Agreements. I need to read/think about Always do your Best. Modern employment situations often over-extend employees, and the way of coping involves matching effort to importance of request. Could be a right livelihood question for me? :-)

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