In the morning and evening, take some time for your personal physical and mental Yoga practice. This should include a little pranayama, meditation and some asana. The entire thing need not take more than an hour, or an hour and a half. You can always find some time in the morning, especially if you go to sleep at a reasonable hour. And if possible, take a little time in the evening for meditation again. There’s no need to change your life completely.

When you live with a family or with a group of friends, you have to do something to satisfy them. When you are in Rome, behave like Romans, but still, you can be a yogic Roman. You don’t need to do everything that they do. When I’m invited to a party, I stand and talk with people while I drink my orange juice. You don’t need to say, “I’m a yogi and I don’t believe in parties.” Just use your common sense and don’t go to extremes. If you have become a strict vegetarian, you should not become the “minister of vegetarianism” and start preaching. If you do that, you will be kicked out of your home. A yogi will adjust and accommodate. You can tell your relatives and friends, “Since I have been eating this way, I feel so light and happy. Just allow me to be like that.” Don’t try to convince them that they should do the same as you.

Charity begins at home and Yoga too should begin at home. If you are married, it doesn’t matter whether your partner does Yoga or not. The important question is whether or not they are agreeable to you practicing Yoga. Then as your partner sees you becoming more peaceful and useful, they will become inspired. If you set a good example, they will notice the positive changes in you and they might become interested. I know of many people who immediately become so called super yogis. They demand that they be given the best and biggest room in the house so they can put up an altar. They become furious when they want to sit and meditate and their partner or their children make any noise.

Don’t become a fanatical yogi. No. That’s not even Yoga. The first principle of Yoga is to adapt, accommodate, bear insult and bear injury. Don’t be too rigid, because I have seen people getting into unnecessary troubles that way. If you are married, and only one of you starts to practice Yoga, don’t force your ideas on your partner. Maybe you have heard a lot about the importance of conserving your vital energy by having a moderate physical relationship. There is no need to tell your partner to go find another bed. You should still know that you are a wife or a husband. I’m just giving you some practical hints because I have seen lot of problems from this sort of thing.

But if your partner is against your practice of Yoga, and if they try to stop you, then you should consider what to do because marriage means that the two people should have similar thinking about important things. Marriage is not just two bodies that come together and sleep together. That’s not a marriage. You are wedded in your thinking. Marriage means oneness in mind and oneness in heart. Neither one should force the other to follow their own way. If one partner is going to put up struggles and if they are against your practice, then talk to them and say, “We seem to have two different approaches. There’s no point in our living together and fighting, so let’s be friends. You follow your path and let me take my path.” Then you can separate. But, if you have a child or children, I would recommend something different. Sacrifice, and find a way to stay together for the sake of the children, until they are grown.

Many great sages and saints, have had to renounce their family to go alone in pursuit of the divine. The Buddha is just one example. There are many others like that. But to do that, make sure you have a  tremendous call; it should not be just an excuse to escape challenges. The best thing, is to learn how to live with a few people harmoniously. Ideally, you can integrate Yoga into your life without making drastic changes in your life. In a very gentle way, by your own beautiful behavior, let others understand why you are wanting to develop new yogic habits. If you create tension in the home, it’s not going to be a yogic home. By your Yoga practice, the home should become more harmonious.

By Sri Swami Satchidananda