Achara (Conduct) – Definition & Detailed Explanation – Yoga Philosophy Glossary

I. What is Achara (Conduct)?

Achara, also known as conduct, is an essential aspect of yoga philosophy that focuses on the ethical and moral principles that guide one’s actions and behaviors. It is a set of guidelines that help individuals lead a virtuous and harmonious life, both internally and externally. Achara encompasses various aspects of conduct, including how one interacts with oneself, others, and the world around them.

In the context of yoga, achara is seen as a crucial component of spiritual growth and self-realization. It is believed that by cultivating positive conduct, one can purify the mind and body, leading to a deeper connection with the self and the divine. Achara is not just about following rules or codes of behavior; it is about embodying values such as compassion, honesty, integrity, and self-discipline in all aspects of life.

II. Importance of Achara in Yoga Philosophy

Achara plays a significant role in yoga philosophy as it provides a framework for living a meaningful and purposeful life. By adhering to the principles of achara, individuals can cultivate a sense of inner peace, balance, and harmony. Achara helps individuals develop self-awareness, self-control, and self-discipline, which are essential qualities for spiritual growth and personal transformation.

In yoga, achara is considered one of the foundational principles that guide practitioners on their path towards self-realization and enlightenment. By practicing achara, individuals can overcome negative habits, thoughts, and emotions, leading to a more peaceful and fulfilling existence. Achara also helps individuals cultivate positive relationships with others, fostering a sense of unity, compassion, and interconnectedness.

III. Principles of Achara in Yoga

There are several key principles of achara in yoga that guide individuals on how to conduct themselves in a virtuous and ethical manner. Some of the fundamental principles of achara include:

1. Ahimsa (Non-violence): Ahimsa is the principle of non-violence towards oneself, others, and all living beings. Practicing ahimsa involves cultivating compassion, kindness, and empathy towards all beings, and avoiding harm or injury in thought, word, and deed.

2. Satya (Truthfulness): Satya is the principle of truthfulness and honesty in all aspects of life. Practicing satya involves speaking the truth, being honest with oneself and others, and living with integrity and authenticity.

3. Asteya (Non-stealing): Asteya is the principle of non-stealing or non-greediness. Practicing asteya involves respecting the property and possessions of others, and refraining from taking what is not rightfully yours.

4. Brahmacharya (Moderation): Brahmacharya is the principle of moderation and self-control. Practicing brahmacharya involves cultivating discipline, restraint, and balance in all areas of life, including food, sleep, and sensory pleasures.

5. Aparigraha (Non-attachment): Aparigraha is the principle of non-attachment or non-possessiveness. Practicing aparigraha involves letting go of material possessions, desires, and attachments, and living with a sense of detachment and freedom.

IV. How to Cultivate Achara in Daily Life

Cultivating achara in daily life requires conscious effort, self-reflection, and practice. Here are some practical ways to cultivate achara in your daily life:

1. Cultivate self-awareness: Take time to reflect on your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors, and identify areas where you can improve your conduct.

2. Practice mindfulness: Stay present and aware of your actions, words, and intentions, and strive to act with awareness and intentionality.

3. Set intentions: Before engaging in any activity or interaction, set positive intentions and align your actions with your values and principles.

4. Practice self-discipline: Develop habits of self-discipline and self-control, and resist the temptation to act impulsively or reactively.

5. Seek guidance: Seek guidance from teachers, mentors, or spiritual leaders who can help you deepen your understanding of achara and support your spiritual growth.

V. Achara in Relation to Other Yogic Concepts

Achara is closely related to other key concepts in yoga philosophy, such as yamas and niyamas, which are ethical guidelines that form the foundation of a yogic lifestyle. Achara also intersects with other yogic principles, such as asana (physical postures), pranayama (breath control), and meditation, as it influences how individuals approach their practice on and off the mat.

Achara is also interconnected with the concept of karma, which is the law of cause and effect that governs the consequences of one’s actions. By practicing achara, individuals can cultivate positive karma and create a virtuous cycle of positive actions and outcomes in their lives.

VI. Examples of Achara in Practice

Examples of achara in practice include:

1. Practicing kindness and compassion towards oneself and others.
2. Speaking the truth and being honest in all interactions.
3. Respecting the rights and boundaries of others.
4. Cultivating self-discipline and moderation in daily habits.
5. Letting go of attachments and desires that cause suffering.
6. Engaging in acts of service and generosity towards others.
7. Living with mindfulness and awareness in all actions and behaviors.

In conclusion, achara is an essential aspect of yoga philosophy that guides individuals on how to conduct themselves in a virtuous and ethical manner. By cultivating achara in daily life, individuals can purify the mind and body, cultivate positive relationships, and deepen their spiritual practice. Through conscious effort, self-reflection, and practice, individuals can embody the principles of achara and lead a more meaningful and purposeful life.