Living in the Light

Yoga for Self-Realization

About the Book

Reach your highest potential and a deeper understanding of self with Deepak Chopra’s groundbreaking guide to the philosophy and practice of Yoga.

Royal Yoga is the highest and most important of the yoga traditions—an all-embracing path to personal transformation that reaches beyond any approach to wellness and healing that exists today. Whatever you are doing to enhance your life, Royal Yoga can bring you more of everything you want; it brings every experience, no matter how small, into the light. By learning to live in the light, you deliberately and consciously accept your true self as a being of infinite possibilities, unfettered by worry or self-doubt.

In this groundbreaking new work, international bestselling author Deepak Chopra and his coauthor Sarah Platt-Finger, yoga director at Chopra Global and co-founder of ISHTA Yoga, offer an illuminating program for self-realization, bliss, and wholeness. Combining a practical thirty-day program that will help you break limiting habits and belief systems with an in-depth exploration of fifty stimulating and restorative yoga poses, Deepak and Sarah provide a thorough and inspiring way to unite the mind, body, and soul.

With new insights on social and emotional intelligence, the power of attention, body awareness, breathing, wholeness, and transcendence, and with dozens of specially commissioned illustrations of yoga poses (accessible for all skill levels, from beginner to enthusiast), Living in the Light provides the ultimate guide to your exciting, bright, and enlightening future.
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Living in the Light



(Limb of Yoga: Yamas)


Royal Yoga begins by improving the social life you lead. Your interaction with other people reflects a lot about you. Inner forces are made visible, and it is these inner forces that dictate what happens to your social self, the self you show the world.

Very few people look at the reflections life gives them and see what they’d like to see. Even the people closest to us don’t respond to us without adding their own slant—their own opinions, expectations, and beliefs—to what we say or do. We’ll begin the journey of Royal Yoga by untangling the mixed reflections our social self is creating, because that’s the only way to change how we relate to others and how they respond to us. We have a choice: Our social self can be radiant with light and lightness, or it can simply be an outer shell, created to serve our ego and burnish our self-image.

In short, Week 1 is about the story we are living and how to create a better story, one that reflects the levels of the self that are closer to our source.


Upgrading Your Story

Begin by silently repeating today’s theme:

I create the peace that surrounds me.

I create the peace that surrounds me.

If your life story has been perfect up to now, there is no need to turn to Yoga to improve upon perfection. Everyone’s personal story is created out of light and shadow. We defend ourselves against pain, which makes us fearful of the future, and against the past, which brings back painful moments. These self-imposed restraints are the focus of the first limb of Yoga, which Patanjali calls yamas, often translated to mean “guidelines” or “rules of conduct.”

Note: I will make passing reference to Patanjali and his definitive work, the Yoga Sutras, but keep in mind that the traditional terminology isn’t critical—only results are critical.

When you are aware of the self-imposed constraints you have placed on yourself, you can upgrade your story. As you progress limb to limb in Royal Yoga, the time will come when all stories you have bought into will melt away. But it is also true that you can’t find the light when you are the one blocking it, and that’s what unhappy stories do.

An upgraded story is easier to enjoy and therefore easier to escape from when the time comes. That’s not a mystical statement. If you have a happy childhood, it is much easier to leave it behind than an unhappy childhood, which keeps returning to block future happiness.

Every spiritual tradition describes “right living” as an important goal, and Yoga agrees. The yamas, however, are not a series of ethical teachings. Right living in Yoga means “bringing in the light of awareness to decrease the things that block fulfillment.” The five yamas, as interpreted for modern life, are the major keys to right living:

1. Treating everyone with peace and nonviolence.

2. Acting and speaking your own truth.

3. Acting unselfishly, without envy, greed, or covetousness.

4. Radiating a presence of purity and innocence.

5. Acting with self-reliance, neither clinging nor creating dependence in others.

Today is about the first yama, which asks you to live in peace with others. The goal is to relate peacefully with everyone. That is the first and most basic upgrade to your story.

Yoga’s call for nonviolence is frequently misunderstood because people think they aren’t spiritual unless they experience serenity and the peace that surpasses understanding. With that expectation in mind, they wind up patiently holding back their anger, even when it is justified, pretending to be more at peace than they really are, and feeling guilty about getting into arguments and engaging in conflict.

Inner peace is a wonderful state, but let’s be clear: Our journey hasn’t gotten there yet. The first limb of Yoga is about social tactics—using your intelligence to bring more light and lightness into the story you are now living.

The tactics for creating a peaceful life are available to everyone, as follows:


Don’t create stress for yourself and others.

Look for areas of agreement instead of areas of discord.

Take responsibility for your own anger and resentment. Don’t unleash them on other people.

Get out of the habit of blaming others.

Be aware of your impulse to judge, criticize, and get offended. Don’t indulge in the impulse whenever possible.

Distance yourself from hostile people and hostile situations.

If you adopt these practices, you won’t be leading a saintly life. You will have succeeded in right living, however, which, at this stage is a huge step in your evolution.


Take time to look over the practices of peace listed above, and honestly ask yourself how well you are practicing them. Social intelligence is a skill, and, like all skills, it can be learned. Learning doesn’t come all at once but in pieces, so take a single strategy from the list, and set your own learning curve. Anger is a good one to begin with, because, along with fear, it is one of the two basic negative emotions.

Yama asks you to be responsible for your anger, not to pass it along, unleash it on the unwary, or channel it as blame toward another. To make practical use of this yama, start following right tactics.

When you feel yourself getting angry, pause and stop at the first sign that you are losing your temper.

Be with the impulse.

Sit in your awareness for just a moment.

Pausing to be aware is a powerful way to defuse any self-defeating behavior. If after pausing your anger comes out anyway, you have still made a start. When you are calmer, ask if your outburst made the situation better. If you can see clearly that it didn’t—it probably made the situation worse—you have taken another step toward inner awareness.

Yoga teaches that all your behaviors are subject to your control. If you want the practices of peace to bring peace under your control, follow the two steps I mentioned for anger. Namely, pause when you find yourself not acting peacefully. Then, if you did not manage to control that behavior, pause and ask yourself if you improved the situation or made it worse.

Even though I will be unfolding Yoga one week at a time, its teachings are meant for a lifetime. The practices of peace work. They will definitely upgrade your story. Don’t pressure yourself to adopt them. Just make them part of your awareness as you grow in social intelligence.

About the Author

Deepak Chopra, MD
Deepak Chopra, MD, founder of the Chopra Foundation and Chopra Global, is a world-renowned pioneer in integrative medicine and personal transformation. He is the author of more than ninety books translated into forty-three languages, including numerous New York Times bestsellers. Time magazine has described Dr. Chopra as "one of the their 100 most influential people." More by Deepak Chopra, MD
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About the Author

Sarah Platt-Finger
Sarah Platt-Finger is the co-founder of ISHTA Yoga, LLC, and the private instructor of Dr. Deepak Chopra. She has shared the elevating tools of ISHTA worldwide through trainings, retreats, and workshops with her husband, Yoga Master Alan Finger. Sarah and Dr. Chopra have collaborated on several projects including “Finding Connection Through Yoga” with Yoga Journal and “Radical Being” with Udemy. She is a featured yoga teacher on the international stage with Chopra Global and on the YouTube channel The Chopra Well. She currently lives in Boca Raton, Florida, with her husband, their daughter, Satya, and their two dogs. More by Sarah Platt-Finger
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